April 22/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Obligations towards the Parents
Sirach 03/01-31/: "Hear me your father, O my children, And do thereafter, that you may be saved. For the Lord has given the father glory as touching the children, And has confirmed the judgement of the mother as touching the sons. He that honors his father will make atonement for sins: And he that gives glory to his mother is as one that lays up treasure. Whoso honors his father will have joy of his children; And in the day of his prayer he will be heard. He that gives glory to his father will have length of days; And he that listens to the Lord will bring rest to his mother, And will do service under his parents, as to masters. In deed and word honor your father, That a blessing may come upon you from him. For the blessing of the father establishes the houses of children; But the curse of the mother roots out the foundations. Glorify not yourself in the dishonor of your father; For your father’s dishonor is no glory to you. For the glory of a man is from the honor of his father; And a mother in dishonor is a reproach to her children. My son, help your father in his old age; And grieve him not as long as he lives. And if he fails in understanding, have patience with him; And dishonor him not while you are in your full strength. For the relieving of your father will not be forgotten: And instead of sins it will be added to build you up. In the day of your affliction it will remember you; As fair weather upon ice, So will your sins also melt away. He that forsakes his father is as a blasphemer; And he that provokes his mother is cursed of the Lord. My son, go on with your business in meekness; So will you be beloved of an acceptable man. The greater you are, humble yourself the more, And you will find favor before the Lord. For great is the potency of the Lord, And he is glorified of those who are lowly. Seek not things that are too hard for you, And search not out things that are above your strength. The things that have been commanded you, think thereupon; For you have no need of the things that are secret. Be not over busy in your superfluous works: For more things are showed to you than men can understand. For the conceit of many has led them astray; And evil surmising has caused their judgement to slip. A stubborn heart will fare ill at the last; And he that loves danger will perish therein. A stubborn heart will be laden with troubles; And the sinner will heap sin upon § sin. The calamity of the proud is no healing; For a plant of wickedness has taken root in him. The heart of the prudent will understand a parable; And the ear of a listener is the desire of a wise man. Water will quench a flaming fire; And almsgiving will make atonement for sins. He that requites good turns is mindful of that which comes afterward; And in the time of his falling he will find a support."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 21-22/15
Why Arabs (Hate) Loathe Hezbollah/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/April 21/15
Arab Shi’ites are Iran’s First Victims/Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Asharq Alawsat/April 21/15
Peace in Yemen, peace in Saudi Arabia/Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya/April 21/15
The collapse of Lebanon’s Hezbollah/Raed Omari/Al Arabiya/April 21/15
Russia has no allies or enemies/Maria Dubovikova/Al Arabiya/April 21/15
US-Iranian naval collision building up in Gulf of Aden/DEBKAfile/April 21/15
Has Operation Decisive Storm Succeeded/Salman Aldossary/Asharq Alawsat/April 21/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 21-22/15
Les politiques a la Gaston du Lebanon...
Beirut Sunni group urges Lebanon not to observe Armenian genocide
Salam Says No to Unilateral Governance, Urges Speedy Election of President
Report: Qahwaji to Travel to Egypt over Joint Arab Force
Change and Reform: We Reject Govt. Mentality of 'Vacuum or Accepting Extension of Terms'
Future accuses Nasrallah of making a ‘big mistake’ 
Beirut Port Authority, Christian Parties Discuss New Proposal on 4th Basin

Cabinet Transfers Funds to HRC to Help Stranded Drivers Return to Lebanon
Jumblat Rules out Crisis with Hizbullah over Iran's Role in Region
Al-Rahi Travels to Armenia for Genocide Centennial
Military Court Jails Daftardar 7 Years, Fustoq 3 Years and Sabbagh 2 Years
Rai: Turkey must apologize over Armenian genocide 
Cabinet fails to agree on annual draft budget 
Aoun’s parliamentary bloc to boycott legislative session

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 21-22/15
Saudi-led Coalition Declares End to Yemen Operation
Iran welcomes end to Saudi-led ops in Yemen as 'step forward'
US says ship's mission off Yemen is to protect navigation
Gulf envoys: No ceasefire unless Houthis retreat
Saudi-led coalition announces new “Arab Marshall Plan” to rebuild Yemen
Mediterranean migrant shipwreck leaves 800 dead
Egypt’s Mursi sentenced to 20 years in prison
U.S., UK, Norway slam Sudan polls as not credible
ISIS claims attack on Spanish embassy in Libya
U.S.: No Reason to Think al-Baghdadi Wounded
Palestinian Teen's Name Listed on Israel Memorial Wall
Young Prince Leads Saudi Arabia's War in Yemen
Saudi King Mobilizes National Guard for Yemen Operations
U.S. Blacklists Two Shebab Leaders after U.N. Bus Attack
Boat Skipper Facing Mass Murder Charge over Migrant Disaster
U.S., allies conduct 28 air strikes in Syria and Iraq: military

Jihad Watch Latest News
To Yearn for Ignorance
Pentagon denies that Islamic State’s caliph has been wounded
Islamic State’s caliph Ibrahim, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, again reported seriously wounded
Alabama Muslima joins Islamic State, Hamas-linked CAIR spokesman says family “extremely traumatized”
Robert Spencer in PJ Media: The Brownshirts Are Back. And They’re In Our Universities.
Alabama Muslima who joined Islamic State exhorts Muslims: “Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood…Kill them”
Islamic State, Taliban declare jihad against each other
Somalia: Islamic jihad suicide bomber murders at least ten at Mogadishu restaurant
Jerusalem: Muslim who rammed car into Jews says “I sought to kill Jews”
Turkish cops detain UK Muslim family thought to be headed for Islamic State

A Crime Against Humanity/Heartbreaking video about Sarin used in Syria
CBSNEWS/60 Minutes
April 19, 2015, 7:05 PM|Scott Pelley reports on the 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria that U.S. intelligence estimates killed more than 1,400 civilians.

Saudi-led Coalition Declares End to Yemen Operation
Naharnet/A Saudi-led coalition declared an end Tuesday to its military campaign four weeks after launching air strikes against rebels in Yemen, saying their threat to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors had been removed. The coalition has "ended Operation Decisive Storm based on a request by the Yemeni government and President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi," its spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, told a press briefing in the Saudi capital. However, he said the coalition would continue to impose a naval blockade on Yemen and target any movements by the Huthi Shiite rebel forces. A coalition statement said that the next phase of operations was aimed at resuming the political process in Yemen, delivering aid, and "fighting terrorism" in the country, home to a deadly al-Qaida franchise.
The Saudi defense ministry said in a statement that the air strikes had managed "to successfully remove threats to Saudi Arabia's security and that of neighboring countries."This, it added, was achieved "by destroying heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles which were seized by the Huthi militia and forces allied to (former president) Ali Abdullah Saleh from army bases and camps."Operation Decisive Storm began on March 26 and will continue until midnight. Agence France Presse

Salam Says No to Unilateral Governance, Urges Speedy Election of President
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam warned Lebanon's bickering political parties on Tuesday that they would fail in governing the country without consensus, urging them to elect a new president without further delay. “Lebanon is the only thing we've got. Putting it in danger is an unforgivable crime” such as the crime of the presidential vacuum, Salam said at the Lebanese Education Conference that was held at the Phoenicia hotel in Beirut. “No political party is capable of changing the circumstances in the region … No single side would be able to succeed alone in deciding the fate of the country,” he stressed. “No side would be able to manage our internal affairs … away from consensus,” the premier stated. Salam also urged all parties to speed up the election of a president to regulate the work of state institutions and normalize the country's constitutional life. The country has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year. Differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances over a compromise candidate have caused the vacuum at Baabda Palace. Salam urged political parties to avoid verbal attacks and consolidate dialogue and rapprochement. Tackling the problems that public education is facing, the PM said the sector needs a clear strategy to be able to meet the demands of the century. He said the cabinet is ready to discuss the education ministry's strategy on the sector. Education Minister Elias Bou Saab addressed the conference before him. “If we don't give teachers their rights, then we would cause the slowdown of the education sector in Lebanon,” he said. He hoped that the controversial public sector wage scale would be adopted by the parliament to give the teachers the much awaited raise. Bou Saab also called for providing students at public schools safe and healthy conditions.

Les politiques a la Gaston du Lebanon...
Walid Phares DC/21.04.15/Hezbollah killed Hariri and his companions, but he is our electoral ally after the killing. Hezbollah assassinates politicians, paralyzes the Government, triggers a war, invades West Beirut and attacks the Druze mountain; but we unite with Hezbollah to elect a President and offer the Iran-backed militia, plenty of offices in Yarze (ministry of defense) and at Bustros Palace (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Hezbollah wages war in Syria, drawing Jihadists to Lebanon. Yeah, we sit down with Hezbollah to resume the hiwar (dialogue). Hezbollah is in Iraq. Ma3leish, we visit his headquarters in south Lebanon and have a nice lunch. Hezbollah is now in Yemen. Bassita, we can still have a deal with the Hezb on Lebanon's presidency. Tayyeb this week Hezbollah wants to invade Mecca and Medina ya shabeb. Aib 3leih (shame on them), responds the politicians. Bass we have "to preserve Lebanon's unity and civil peace." So, let's have another round of hiwar (dialogue). Eh, these are Lebanon's politics, a la Gaston, for those who are fans of the famous French cartoon printed in Brussels. With such politics, don't count on anyone taking that place seriously.

Aoun’s parliamentary bloc to boycott legislative session
The Daily Star/Apr. 21, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Change and Reform bloc will boycott an upcoming legislative session due to a dispute over Parliament's agenda. The decision, which was announced one day after a Parliament secretariat meeting, came after agenda items listed for the upcoming session did not meet the bloc’s criteria for urgent legislation, Free Patriotic Movement MP Ibrahim Kanaan said after the bloc's weekly meeting. The bloc, which is headed by FPM leader Michel Aoun, is now officially the second group to announce its boycott of legislative sessions, after Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said Monday that the LF bloc will not attend if the annual budget and the election law are not listed on the agenda. The agenda for the legislative session will include seven bills relating to food safety, public finance and protocols pertaining to public budgeting, Deputy Speaker Farid Makari said after Parliament’s secretariat meeting Monday. Parliament last convened for a legislative session on Nov. 5 when lawmakers voted to extend their terms by more than two and a half years.

Future accuses Nasrallah of making a ‘big mistake’
The Daily Star/ Apr. 21, 2015/BEIRUT: The Future bloc denounced Tuesday Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s latest anti-Saudi Arabia tirade and accused the party chief of committing a ‘big mistake.’A statement released after the bloc’s weekly meeting Tuesday described the Hezbollah leader’s remarks as a “big mistake that could be added to the multiple mistakes committed by Nasrallah against the Lebanese people and Arab states.”Friday’s speech, according to the Future bloc, disregards higher Arab interests and reflects a “destructive” Hezbollah policy directly linked to Iranian interests. The “imprudent” remarks have also raised questions for the Lebanese people over Hezbollah’s motives, given that party’s position has negative repercussions on Lebanese expats working in Arab states, the statement added. According to the Future bloc, neither Lebanon nor the Lebanese have anything to do with the war in Yemen and Hezbollah has no justification for its meddling in Yemeni affairs except for obeying the orders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Despite the implicit resentment of Iran, the Future bloc said it would support a relationship between Tehran and Arab states that is based on mutual respect and abstinence from interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region. The Future bloc also welcomed the arrival of the first shipment of French weapons financed by a $3 billion Saudi arms grant, one day after a ceremony marking the arrival of the long-anticipated and badly needed arms was held at the Beirut airport. This Saudi-led initiative “refutes the campaign of rumors and cynicism waged by Hezbollah and its allies,” the statement read. “It confirms once again that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports the legitimacy of all of Lebanon and does not support one faction at the cost of another.”In light of the Cabinet’s failure to agree on combining the 2015 draft budget with the public sector salary scale Tuesday, The bloc expressed its commitment to the completion of a comprehensive draft budget that would include the estimated cost of a wage hike in the public sector. The Future bloc also commended Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk for clamping down on rioting inmates in Roumieh Prison, four days after Islamist inmates briefly held 20 guards hostage. Several mattresses had been set ablaze, causing a fire that spread to the second floor of the facility. In light of the Roumieh riots, the bloc called on the government to take the necessary measures to improve the conditions in Lebanese prisons, arguing that overcrowding was contributing to heightened tensions among inmates.

Report: Qahwaji to Travel to Egypt over Joint Arab Force
Naharnet/Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji is expected to attend a meeting for Arab military leaders in Cairo this week following an agreement at an Arab summit to establish a joint force, al-Akhbar daily reported on Tuesday. Qahwaji will represent Lebanon at Wednesday's meeting which Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi has called for, said the report. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced last month the accord to establish the joint force at the end of the summit he hosted in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Al-Sisi set a four-month timeframe for the 22-member Arab League to decide on the composition and rules of engagement of the joint force. The Arab League has for months stressed the pressing need for such a force to combat terrorists such as Islamic State group jihadists. But the Saudi-led Arab air strikes launched last month against Yemen's Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels have highlighted the divergent interests and priorities of the League's members.

Change and Reform: We Reject Govt. Mentality of 'Vacuum or Accepting Extension of Terms'
Naharnet/The Change and Reform bloc condemned on Tuesday the appointment of “unqualified” individuals at positions at various state institutions, stressing the need to adhere to the constitution. MP Ibrahim Kanaan stated after the bloc's weekly meeting: “We reject the government's approach of either facing vacuum or accepting the extension of terms of officials or authorities, such as parliament.”He then listed a number of cases where Lebanon was faced with vacuum or an extension, such as last year's postponed parliamentary elections.
The elections were not held due to security fears and failure of political blocs to agree on a new electoral law, which consequently led to the parliament extending its term for a second time. The Change and Reform bloc voted against the extension for a second time. Kanaan also noted the debate over the tenures of security officials, which include that of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji. His term ends in September and it was previously extended for two years in 2013. “Continuing in this deliberate government approach will only impose options that violate the constitution,” said Kanaan. He added that the approach serves factionalism and will incur negative repercussions on the country. “It seems that the constitutional violations target a certain sect, especially Christians,” he remarked.
He warned that the bloc may call for an extraordinary meeting should the situation in Lebanon continue.

Beirut Sunni group urges Lebanon not to observe Armenian genocide
The Daily Star/Apr. 21, 2015/BEIRUT: A coalition of Sunni organizations in Beirut Tuesday condemned a decision by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to close private and public schools on April 24 in observance of the Armenian genocide, saying it might torpedo Turkish efforts to release Lebanese hostages held by ISIS and Nusra Front. "Beiruti Associations and Organizations rejects Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, given that the anniversary is a subject of historical dispute and the lack of national Lebanese consensus regarding the circumstances [of the events of 1915],” a statement said. Cabinet Tuesday approved Bou Saab’s decision to close down schools on April 24 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The statement urged Bou Saab to restrict his decision to private schools that wish to commemorate the event and exclude “Muslim and public schools which have a variety of students.” Bou Saab, the statement added, “has no right to impose a decision that concerns one sect on the rest of the sects.”“Furthermore, this decision would harm the distinctive relations between Lebanon and Turkey and could topple Turkish efforts to help secure the release of Lebanese servicemen.”

Cabinet Transfers Funds to HRC to Help Stranded Drivers Return to Lebanon
Naharnet/The government approved on Tuesday to transfer one million dollars to the Higher Relief Council to bring back home Lebanese truck drivers stranded in Saudi Arabia since March. Acting Information Minister Sejaan Qazzi made the announcement following a cabinet session chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail. Several Lebanese drivers have been stranded in Saudi Arabia as a result of the closure of the Nasib border crossing between Jordan and Syria. The crossing is considered a crucial gateway for Syria's government and for Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian traders and merchants. Other drivers had been stranded on the Syrian-Jordanian border, in the free zone, after rebels, backed by al-Nusra Front, seized the Syrian side. But they have returned home. Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb told reporters at the Grand Serail that the stranded drivers should contact the Lebanese embassies in Jordan and Saudi Arabia to guarantee their safe return. He reiterated that the government is preparing a plan to export goods by the sea after overland exports to Gulf states stopped last month following the rebel seizure of the Syrian side of the border with Jordan.

Rai: Turkey must apologize over Armenian genocide
The Daily Star/Apr. 21, 2015 /BEIRUT: Turkey must apologize for the Armenian genocide, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai told reporters Tuesday from the Beirut airport before traveling to Yervan for a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the mass killings. "The ceremony which will be held [on April 24] in Armenia serves to sanctify the martyrs [of the genocide],” Rai said. “We pray for all the martyrs who were killed, whether they were Armenians, Assyrians or Syriac who were present in this large disaster.” When asked whether those responsible for the massacre should apologize to the Armenian people, the patriarch replied by saying that an apology has been the constant demand of the Armenian, Assyrian and Syriac people. “And this is what should happen and what should always be called for.”
On April 28, Rai will leave Armenia for France where he is expected to meet with French President Francois Hollande.He is scheduled to deliver a speech on the role of the Christians in the Levant in France’s UNESCO headquarters.

Al-Rahi Travels to Armenia for Genocide Centennial
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi traveled to Armenia on Tuesday to attend the centenary commemoration of the Armenian genocide. Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun telephoned al-Rahi to wish him luck in his trip, the state-run National News Agency reported. They also discussed the developments in Lebanon and the region, it said. Armenians in Armenia and the diaspora, including Lebanon, will on April 24 mark the 100th anniversary of the start of a campaign of genocide by Ottoman forces in World War I to wipe them out of Anatolia. Turkey on Monday sought to reach out to Armenians, saying it shared their pain and wanted to heal the wounds of the past. In his conciliatory message, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stopped well short of recognizing the killings as a genocide -- as Armenians want -- but explicitly referred to deadly deportations of "Ottoman Armenians.” Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey however, denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. From Armenia, al-Rahi will head to France. Lebanon's presidential deadlock is expected to top the agenda of talks between him and French President Francois Hollande. “The presidential election issue must be addressed locally and in cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Iran,” said the patriarch ahead of traveling to Armenia on Tuesday. Al-Rahi will also inaugurate Europe's Maronite Diocese in the town of Meudon in the French capital's suburbs.

Jumblat Rules out Crisis with Hizbullah over Iran's Role in Region
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat ruled out a dispute between him and Hizbullah over Iran's expansion in the region and its rivalry with Saudi Arabia. In remarks to An Nahar daily published on Tuesday, Jumblat said Hizbullah should reassess “Iran's absolute support for the Syrian regime, which will destroy Syria.” “This project will take the country to more destruction,” he stated. Thousands of Hizbullah members are fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad's troops against the rebels seeking to topple him. Their role has helped turn the fighting in Assad's favor in several key locations of the war-ravaged country. “Isn't it our right to discuss and object Iran's support for the (Huthi) minorities in Yemen?” Jumblat wondered. The lawmaker also criticized Hizbullah for lashing out at Saudi Arabia over its air strikes on the Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen. Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been pounding the rebels and allied fighters loyal to Yemen's ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudi government says its coalition of 10 Arab countries is bombing the Huthis to restore Yemen's internationally recognized president, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to seek refuge in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis accuse Iran of arming the Huthis, but Tehran says it only provides aid and political support.

Beirut Port Authority, Christian Parties Discuss New Proposal on 4th Basin
Naharnet /The representatives of Christian parties have heard a new proposal from the head of the Beirut Port Authority, Hassan Qoraytem, on the controversial filling of the port's fourth basin, local dailies reported on Tuesday. Al-Joumhouria and al-Liwaa newspapers quoted sources as saying that Maronite Bishop Boulos Sayyah attended the meeting that was held in Bkirki. Both Bkirki and Christian parties - the Free Patriotic Movement, Kataeb Party, the Lebanese Forces, Marada Movement and the Tashnag – reject filling the basin. The plan to fill it sparked controversy in December when the truckers syndicate went on strike over fears that the project would cause hundreds of Beirut Port employees, mostly truckers, to lose their jobs. The syndicate claims that the filling of the basin would end the role of Beirut Port and would harm the economy. The truckers later ended their strike after Prime Minister Tammam Salam said the work to fill the basin would freeze until the issue was resolved. The sources said Qoraytem told the conferees about a plan to fill only one-third of the 75,000-square-meter basin. Following the talks, the representatives of the parties asked Qoraytem for a three-week deadline to study his proposal, they said. Their next meeting is set for May 8, the sources added.

Gulf envoys: No ceasefire unless Houthis retreat

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 21 April 2015
There will be no immediate ceasefire in Yemen unless Houthi rebels withdraw from seized territory, Gulf envoys told U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday. Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations Abdallah al-Muallami told Agence France-Presse that "certain conditions" must be met for the Saudi-led air campaign “Operation Decisive Storm” to be paused. "We all want to see an early end to the military hostilities, but there are conditions conducive to having an early end to the hostilities," Muallami said following a meeting with Ban.
The Saudi envoy said conditions for a ceasefire had been spelled out in the recently-adopted Security Council resolution. The resolution adopted last week demands that the Houthis pull back from territory seized, including the capital Sanaa, end their violent campaign and return to peace talks. With the air strikes claiming more civilian lives, Ban has called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Yemen, saying the country was "in flames" and that it was time for a "passage to real peace." Following the resignation of Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar as Yemen peace envoy, Ban moved to appoint Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to be his new representative. Ban informed the Gulf envoys of his choice but the ambassadors did not specify whether they would accept the mediation, which has taken on a new urgency as the death toll climbs. "We have not presented any reaction yet. It is being studied in the capitals and we will have a reaction as quickly as possible," said Muallami. Since March 26, Saudi Arabia has led an alliance of Arab countries in air strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel group and militias of the deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. [With AFP]

Nasrallah is Not Lebanese
Elias Bejjani/ All what is said in the below Khaled Abu Toameh's piece Very true. Each word in this great piece is true 100%. Nasrallah is a mere Iranian puppet and mouthpiece. There is nothing in him that is Lebanese, Arab or even human. He hates all those who not slaves under the Mullahs' full control. By the end evil politicians like him always end with failure. He is on this track no matter what

Why Arabs Loathe (Hate) Hezbollah
Khaled Abu Toameh
April 21, 2015 at 5:00 am
As Iran's chief puppet in the Middle East (along with Syria's Bashar Assad), Nasrallah wants to see Iran take over most of the Arab countries.
"[W]hat is the difference between Iran and Islamic State? The answer is simple; they are all trying to establish a foothold on the border with Saudi Arabia." — Tariq al-Hamid, prominent Saudi editor and political analyst.
Now, however, many Arabs seem to have woken up to the reality that Nasrallah is nothing but an Iranian puppet whose sole goal is to serve his masters in Tehran. But it remains to be seen whether the U.S. Administration and other Western powers will also wake up and realize that Iran and its proxies pose a real threat not only to Israel, but also to many Arabs and Muslims.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Iran's protégé and partner in the Middle East, seems to be leading the Lebanese people into another catastrophe.
In 2006, Nasrallah initiated a war with Israel that wrought havoc on the Lebanese, after an ambush by Hezbollah in Israeli territory that left three Israeli soldiers dead and two abducted.
Now the Lebanese people are about to pay another heavy price – this time because of Nasrallah's involvement in the Syrian civil war and his strong condemnations of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries over the conflict in Yemen.
During a speech in Beirut last Friday, Nasrallah condemned the Saudi-led "aggression" against Yemen. "It is our human, jihadist and religious duty to take this stance and all the sons of this nation must reassess their responsibilities and take the appropriate stance," he said. "Intimidation or threats will not prevent us from continuing to declare our condemnation of the aggression against Yemen. The war's real objective is to restore the Saudi-American hegemony over Yemen."
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah blasted Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen, in a speech he gave in Beirut on April 17, 2015. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)
The real reason why Nasrallah has come out against the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes in Yemen is that he is worried about the fate of the Iranian-backed Houthis, who are seeking to take over the Arab country. Indeed, Nasrallah has good reason to be worried. A defeat for the Houthis would also be seen as a defeat for Hezbollah and Iran. As Iran's chief puppet in the Middle East (along with Syria's Bashar Assad), Nasrallah wants to see Iran take over most of the Arab countries.
Nasrallah seems determined to achieve this goal at any cost. He does not care if the Lebanese people pay a heavy price for his alliance with Iran.
His attacks on Saudi Arabia and its allies have triggered fears that Lebanese nationals living in the Gulf will be the first to pay the price.
This is precisely what happened to the Palestinians when they supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. After Kuwait was liberated, the emirate and other Gulf countries expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were living and working there.
Now, thanks to Nasrallah's policies and public statements, the Lebanese living in the Gulf could meet the same fate.
"Where does Nasrallah wish to take Lebanon and the Lebanese through his tense speeches against Saudi Arabia?" asked Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. "Has he taken into consideration the consequences of his words on the lives of around 50,000 Lebanese living in Saudi Arabia? The foolish tone of Nasrallah is not beneficial."
Jumblatt was not the only Lebanese politician to express concern over Nasrallah's fiery speech against Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Lebanese Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said Nasrallah should be "ashamed" of his attacks on Saudi Arabia, "which has supported Lebanon's state institutions and has not paid money to any side or sect and has not created militias." Rifi described Hezbollah as a "mere tool" of Iran that "sacrifices itself and its people for the sake of a failing (Iranian) project. ... Hezbollah is turning Lebanon into an operations room to spread Iranian hegemony."
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil warned that his country could plunge into chaos if political powers in Lebanon bet on competing foreign powers and bring regional conflicts into the country.
"We do not have the right to bid on foreign powers and attract conflicts that are bigger than Lebanon and which Lebanon cannot handle," Bassil said. Referring to Hezbollah, he added: "If a group, party or sect still wants to try this after the failure of all past experiences, we would be subjecting our people and our country to an existential threat."
When the Lebanese foreign minister talks about "failure of past experiences," he is obviously referring to the wars with Israel that Hezbollah has brought on Lebanon.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that Nasrallah's speech against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was "wailing and crying." He said that Nasrallah was following in the footsteps of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, by adopting "creativity in falsification, misinterpretation, deception, show of force and sectarian mobilization." He said that Hezbollah is "keen to rescue the [Syrian] regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian role in infiltrating Yemen and interfering in Arab affairs."
Lebanese TV anchor Hanadi Zaidan accused Nasrallah of working for Iranian interests and against his home country of Lebanon.
"Hezbollah and its secretary-general [Nasrallah] are the only ones who swim against the Arab and Lebanese current, declaring their blind loyalty to the Iranian birds of darkness," Zaidan said. "His [Nasrallah's] job is to implement an Iranian agenda against the Lebanese state." She added that Nasrallah and his "Iranian masters" have been caught off-guard by the coalition of Arab states in Yemen.
Judging from the reactions of Saudi and other Gulf commentators, it is evident that Nasrallah has already managed to cause huge and irreversible damage to Lebanon's relations with the predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab world.
These commentators, whose views reflect government thinking, have used extremely harsh words to denounce Nasrallah, with some dubbing him "deranged" and an "ingrate."
Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, said that Nasrallah was a fool.
"A friend informs me that Nasarallat [the nickname Tamim gives to Nasrallah] says that Iran's interference in Yemen is as a charity foundation ... What a fool!" Tamim said.
Tariq al-Hamid, a prominent Saudi editor and political analyst, said that both Iran and Hezbollah have "gone haywire" as a result of the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.
Al-Hamid pointed out that Iran and Hezbollah were now frustrated because of the severe blows that their allies have been dealt in Yemen. "They were hoping that the Houthi control over Yemen would boost the morale of their followers, who are already frustrated because of what is happening to them in Syria," he said. "All the crazy folks in the region are now targeting Saudi Arabia. What is the difference between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda? And what is the difference between Iran and the Islamic State? The answer is simple; they are all trying to establish a foothold on the border with Saudi Arabia."
Addressing the Hezbollah leader, a Saudi blogger wrote: "You must pay the price for the crime you committed against Lebanon in 2006, when you destroyed Lebanon through your light-heated actions. All what you were seeking back then was to rally as many Arabs and Muslims behind you through your dirty trick." Another blogger wrote: "It is time for the Arab countries to arrest the terrorist Nasrallah and bring him to trial for his interference in Yemen's affairs and crimes against Syria, as well as his betrayal of his country, Lebanon."
Nasrallah and his Hezbollah terrorist group are now more isolated than ever in the Arab world. Until a few years ago, Nasrallah was seen as a "hero" of the Arab world because of his fight against Israel.
Now, however, many Arabs seem to have woken up to the reality that Nasrallah is nothing but an Iranian puppet whose sole goal is to serve his masters in Tehran. This, of course, is good news for moderate Arabs and Muslims in the region. But it remains to be seen whether the U.S. Administration and other Western powers will also wake up and realize that Iran and its proxies pose a real threat not only to Israel, but also to many Arabs and Muslims.

Peace in Yemen, peace in Saudi Arabia
Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
I have good news for Yemenis: Saudi Arabia will be committed to their country even after emerging victorious from the war, and after the fall of the Houthis and deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his “deep state.”
No Saudi official has said this, but it goes without saying. For the kingdom, victory is not achieving short-term aims – regardless of how important they are – but achieving complete peace in Yemen so there will be peace in Saudi Arabia.
Former U.S. President George W Bush toppled Saddam Hussein, but failed to build a new and stable Iraq despite U.S. power. Americans, Arabs and Iraqis are still angry at Bush for that. The good news is that the Saudis are wiser than him.
Victory will not be with the return of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi to Sanaa, but with achieving the aims of the 2011 Yemeni revolution by building a pluralistic country based on the principles of freedom, justice, and respect of sovereignty of law.
Riyadh rejected the tyranny of the Houthi movement because the latter is a front for Iranian expansion, and because it is a governing system that will only succeed via suppression
Anything other than that would be a return to the situation that drove Yemen to where it was before the Houthis and Saleh staged their coup. This would be a waste of efforts, and of the positive spirit that reigned after Operation Decisive Storm was launched.
Legitimacy in Yemen is not just represented by Hadi, even though he is the only remaining symbol of it. Legitimacy is what makes Hadi important, and what makes accepting him important despite the reservations of various Yemeni forces over his performance.
Legitimacy is for the revolution and its aims, which led Hadi to the presidency to sponsor a political negotiating process that ends with a consensus among social components to establish a new Yemen, aspects of which have been drawn by the dreams of youths who sacrificed their lives four years ago.
With each airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition, and progress by popular resistance forces on the ground, and political victories achieved by Riyadh at the U.N. Security Council and international gatherings, it has been confirmed that the kingdom has become responsible for Yemen more than ever before.
It is thus responsible until complete peace and a developmental project are achieved there – a project that gives hope to Yemen and improves its situation after it was almost declared a “failed state” before this crisis happened and even before the Arab Spring.
Perhaps “complete peace” requires a year or two. However, a political process must begin in Yemen after the war ends, and this where Riyadh can announce it has achieved its aims. The kingdom will then be an observer, and a guarantor and sponsor more than it has ever been to Yemen.
However, to guarantee success, it must reread events in Yemen and correct the wrong analysis that led to the famous Gulf initiative, which tried to ensure stability by simply maintaining Saleh’s dilapidated state. This later exploded in the face of the kingdom.
The Feb. 2011 revolution was an inevitable and natural development, and an expression of the aspirations of most Yemenis. Riyadh rejected the tyranny of the Houthi movement because the latter is a front for Iranian expansion, and because it is a governing system that will only succeed via suppression.
This system will be worse than Saleh, who was not about imposing an ideology or a different identity on Yemenis, but was only interested in governing. He sided with the Saudis, then Saddam, then the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve this aim, and his most recent alliance is with the Houthis – all for the purpose of governing.
The Houthis have a plan and a vision they want to impose on Yemenis, which will cause revolutions and protests. Fresh blood will be shed and Yemen will be divided. This is another reason that pushed Saudi Arabia to intervene, so Riyadh must not accept that a regime resembling Saleh or the Houthis govern Yemen after it emerges victorious over them.
Yemeni voice
Yemeni journalist Maarib al-Ward said the 2011 revolution “demanded toppling the political regime and gradually establishing a democratic system as an alternative. It demanded that people’s value as being in control of governance be restored in order to establish a modern state where law, justice and citizenship reign.”
He added that dialogue “provided solutions for the country’s problems,” but was thwarted when “Saleh returned under the cover of the Houthis. We realized he has a deep state and he was in control of everything.”
This conviction made Maarib and the revolution’s youths believe that “establishing a civil state can’t be accomplished in a country where there are millions of weapons.” It is important “that arms be exclusive to the state, as it’s the only legitimate party allowed to resort to power in order to guarantee parity and guarantee that no party uses its power against another to win elections. This was the only guarantor of peaceful devolution of power.”
Maarib says disarming Yemeni parties is the solution, and this should be one of the aims of Operation Decisive Storm. “As a result of possessing military power equal to that of the army, the Houthis didn’t abide by the solutions of the dialogue that they participated in, and they didn’t respect the political process because they’re convinced that force can accomplish” their aims, he said.
Maarib says the best thing that Operation Decisive Storm is doing is “putting an end to the military arsenal of the Houthis and Saleh, although I know that this arsenal is [a possession] of the army and security forces that the Houthis robbed. Putting an end to this arsenal will provide a secure and real environment to establish a state for everyone, where no one can turn against it anytime he wants.”
Asked about the state he and his comrades dreamed of when protesting four years ago, Maarib said: “A state that sponsors the interests of citizens, that rules according to law rather than tribal customs, that hears its citizens rather than tribal clerics who blackmail it, that doesn’t loot and collect taxes during peace but adopt neutrality during domestic wars even though it’s part of the struggle.”
He said reforming the judiciary was one of the revolution’s top priorities to establish a state of law, adding that the judiciary did not perform its duties and “served the regime instead of the people.”
These are logical demands. If the kingdom achieves that for the people of Yemen – not via direct intervention but via a secure political process – this will be enough to turn Yemen into a happy and productive country rather than a failed state governed by a dictator who requests funds from Riyadh and the Gulf to provide stability that he failed to provide due to his mismanagement.

The collapse of Lebanon’s Hezbollah
Raed Omari/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
What is written here about Lebanon’s Hezbollah might be viewed by many as sectarian-sounding. It is anything but sectarian. It isn’t in any way an escalation of rhetoric against the Shiite militant group but a sound and objective explanation of why Hezbollah, in my estimation, is now on the verge of collapse. I see nowadays any talk about Hezbollah’s popularity as outdated for the Shiite group is now facing an existentialist dilemma.
Firstly, it must be noted that Sunni Muslims constitute the majority of the Arab world – rarely estimated as accounting for less than 80 percent in academic studies. The rough estimate of how much in percentage Arab Sunnis outnumber Arab Shiites does not need that much research to pinpoint. Just put Iraq, Syria and Lebanon aside and you can tell. Iran-backed Hezbollah has always presented itself as Shiite and, in terms of make-up, it is purely Shiite.
It’s no doubt that Hezbollah’s embroilment in the Syrian war has marked the beginning of its moral decline
Such demographic facts may not be that important – and at a certain time they were not – but nowadays they are especially so with the Arab world severely suffering from the destructive interference of Shiite Iran using its Shiite allies Hezbollah, the Syrian regime and Houthis in Yemen as well as allies in Iraq and Lebanon.
Gaining popularity
Hezbollah has succeeded in gaining popularity outside its Shiite base from Arab Sunnis using its “alluring” image as a resistance to the Israeli occupation. Hezbollah’s popularity reached its climax during the 33-day war with Israel in 2006. At the time, Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah’s televised speeches were probably the most watched across the Arab world, especially in the Palestinian refugee camps. With complete self-denial, Hezbollah’s Nasrallah is still acting – in words only – as if nothing has changed since 2006. The outspoken leader is living on faded memories.
The aftermath of the 2006 war with Israel has seen Hezbollah shift from resistance movement to a Shiite militia in service of Iran. After 2006, Hezbollah has not shown any considerable resistant attitude, not even during the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Hezbollah has been fully indulgent in sectarian struggles, mainly in Syria, that have nothing to do with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the point its self-depicted apparatus as resistance movement seems to be nothing but a lie. In brief, Hezbollah’s resistance ideology is never consistent, making it similar to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In both militias’ rhetoric, Palestine is absent.
It’s no doubt that Hezbollah’s embroilment in the Syrian war has marked the beginning of its moral decline and will definitely bring about its downfall, at least militarily. Hezbollah rushed to Syria to fight alongside the Assad Alawite regime soon after the war there had begun to take the form of a Sunni revolution against the decades-long Alawite rule. In fact, Hezbollah did not hide its sectarian agenda, declaring its aim to protect Shiite shrines. The story of the Shiite shrines was the pretext Hezbollah used to cover the orders it received from Tehran to save the Syrian regime from the Sunni revolution that began to take shape and gain momentum some few months following March 2011.
Depleting Hezbollah’s power
Militarily speaking, the years-long Syrian war seems to be depleting Hezbollah’s power. It is becoming difficult for Iran to send weapons to Hezbollah through Syria, as the routes are monitored and hindered by Israel. Thus the Shiite militia’s arsenal will come to an end one day or at least will be weakened in comparison to those it opposes, such as the Syrian opposition. The recent seizure of the Syrian rebels on the Nasibe border crossing with Jordan was proof of the Syrian opposition’s growing military competence as opposed to the deteriorating capabilities of Hezbollah and other militias fighting alongside the Assad regime’s forces. Hezbollah is weakening itself by itself.
Hezbollah is no longer a resistance movement and maybe never has been but it was seemingly waiting for the right moment to unveil its role as a tool to establish the “Shiite Crescent” within the Levant, as it was coined by Jordan King Abdullah. But no matter what, Hezbollah will remain a militia it seems. Nasrallah’s rhetorical vow to fight in Syria, Iraq and Yemen is no doubt beyond his party’s capabilities.
It seems evident now that Hezbollah is nothing but an effective proxy for Iranian foreign policy. Hezbollah should realize that it is playing a high stakes game as Tehran may sell it out in one of its never-ending bargains.

Russia has no allies or enemies
Maria Dubovikova/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Russia has no allies. President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that his country’s size frightens its neighbors, and repeated the famous saying of Emperor Alexander III that Russia has only two allies: its army and navy.
The current international crisis started with the Ukrainian conflict, which has claimed more than 5,000 lives. It has torn off the masks of many international players, which have openly revealed their true intentions and thus pushed the international community to a broad confrontation.
Having no enemies or allies makes Russian manoeuvres difficult to calculate
NATO manoeuvres, deployment of U.S. anti-missile defense systems in Europe, and rhetoric against Russia disturbs Moscow, and indicate that they pose a threat to its national interests. Putin has accused the United States of the desire to have vassals rather than allies. Washington has become used to imposing its will on other countries via visits or telephone calls from high-level U.S. officials who believe in American exceptionalism.
Foreign policy
Russia considers itself a great power with the right to have its own foreign policy, to protect its national interests, and to abide by international law rather than dubious rules imposed by a player with little credibility pretending to be a world arbiter.
Russia demands respect for its national interests and asks for fair cooperation. Russia has good and stable relations with Brazil, India and China, and considers those relations as models for prosperous coexistence and cooperation.
Despite great problems in Russian-Western relations, Putin said his country does not view any other as an enemy, and urged the international community not to view Russia as a foe. He considers the real enemies to be international terrorism and organized crime.
Russia feels strong and fears nothing. Putin says the worst period for the country’s economy is over, and predicts a speedy recovery assuming that it will adapt fast to new realities. Russia will not yield to external pressure or sanctions. Putin cited Iran, which has survived long-term sanctions and has not yielded to external pressure. According to him, Russia will survive the current crisis with little damage because it is stronger.
Far from good
In reality, however, the economic situation is far from good, with 45 percent of Russians cutting expenditure on essential commodities. Since the West is not eager to reach a detente, the crisis could become deeper and less predictable.
The message of Russian peaceful intentions is not convincing the Baltic states - which have historically considered Moscow a threat - and have been contradicted by hawkish and politically incorrect declarations from some high-level Russian politicians. However, in general Russia has no interest in confrontation or aggravating international or bilateral relations. Its prosperity depends on fruitful cooperation and global economic stability.
Having no enemies or allies makes Russian manoeuvres difficult to calculate. Though Moscow does not see its counterparts as enemies, it does see direct threats to its national interests in their actions. And despite not having allies, Russia enjoys good cooperation with several global players. Thus Putin’s message is reminiscent of lyrics from a famous Soviet song: “We are a peaceful people, but our armored train stands at the ready.”

US-Iranian naval collision building up in Gulf of Aden
DEBKAfile Special Report April 21, 2015
US and Iran headed for a naval face-off over Yemen following the announcement Monday night that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, known as “The Big Stick,” was on its way to the Gulf of Aden to join the American naval force of nine warships building up to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying arms for Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Roosevelt Strike Group 12 was dispatched from the Persian Gulf to head off an Iranian naval armada of 8-9 vessels on its way to the Gulf of Aden with fresh military supplies for the rebels.
The Roosevelt carrier is accompanied by US Navy destroyers and other vessels, including the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy. The US warships are carrying teams able to board and search vessels bound to deliver Iranian arms in accordance with UN resolutions.
The aircraft carrier’s arrival will notch up America’s active partnership in the blockade Saudi Arabia and Egypt have thrown up around Yemeni shores. It will underscore Washington’s resolve to pre-empt any attempt by Iranian warships to break this blockade, as well as the deepening US involvement against the Iranian-backed rebel forces in Yemen.
High-placed sources in Washington fear that the US, Saudi and Egyptian fleets piling up in the Gulf of Aden may fall to blows with Iranian warships over any attempt to drop military supplies on shore for the rebels.
On April 10, debkafile raised the possibility of a Saudi-Iranian collision at sea, after the Saudi army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri, warned: “Iranian ships have the right to be present in international waters, but won’t be allowed to enter Yemeni territorial waters.”
On the same day, Washington announced that the US Air Force had begun aerial refueling missions for the Saudi-led coalition forces conducting air strikes to stem the Houthi rebels’ advances.
Monday, April 20, the Saudi charge d’affaires in Tehran was summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry for a protest against Saudi air bombardment of the neighborhood in the capital Sanaa close to the Iranian embassy. There were no casualties but the building was damaged. Saudi Arabia said its target had been the largest Houthi arms arsenal in the city, which was located near the Iranian embassy.
This protest was indirectly addressed to Washington too, since the United States has made no secret of providing the Saudi Air Force with intelligence feeds for its strikes and therefore approval.

Has Operation Decisive Storm Succeeded?
Salman Aldossary/Asharq Alawsat
Tuesday, 21 Apr, 2015
Without any fanfare, Operation Decisive Storm has began a new phase in its military approach towards the Houthi militia and ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, after it successfully achieved its military objectives 26 days into its launch. The operation has moved into a second phase aimed at protecting civilians from the Houthi attacks and besieging and restricting the movement of the insurgent militias as well as supporting the evacuation operations and the delivery of humanitarian aid. This significant and major shift in the military operations means that Operation Decisive Storm has wrapped up its most sensitive and dangerous stage in the war against the Houthi militia, moving to another stage mainly based on directing effective, “game-changing” strikes, particularly after the successful elimination of the militias’ defensive and offensive capabilities while supporting the anti-Houthi resistance which has emerged as a powerful player on the Yemeni scene.
With this shift, Operation Decisive Storm has so far successfully fulfilled its military objectives, having eliminated the insurgents’ command-and-control centers and removed the threat of their ballistic missiles by completely destroying launch vehicles and more than 80 percent of weapon depots the militias have seized. With the major military shift represented by the declaration of allegiance by Brig. Abdulrahman Al-Halili, who commands 15,000 soldiers loyal to legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Operation Decisive Storm is now on course toward dismantling and besieging the militias on the ground after it managed to do so from air and sea.
The Saudi-led coalition declared from day one of the airstrikes that the main objective of Operation Decisive Storm was to rid the Yemeni people from the insurgent putschists and restore legitimacy—nothing more, nothing less. They made clear that they had no political aspirations in Yemen or subsequent goals, nor were they seeking to wage a proxy war against another country on Yemeni soil. When the strategic objectives of the operation were achieved, coalition members announced that airstrikes would be drastically reduced, if not stopped altogether, according to the operation’s official spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri. Coalition forces are now inaugurating another advanced phase, one that is based on preventing the militias from harming civilians, and supporting military operations being carried out on the ground by the people’s committees and volunteer resistance forces.
Operation Decisive Storm has managed to achieve its goals with the least losses possible, not only in its own ranks but among the Yemeni people despite the Houthi aggression against civilians. It remains to be noted that this remarkable military progress has not been accompanied by any sort of propaganda of triumph. As far as the coalition’s members are concerned, this war is not merely about achieving a victory; it is a war dictated by necessity, one which none of them wanted in the first place. This is why the announcement of the end of the first stage of the war was quiet and in harmony with the policies of Saudi Arabia, the coalition’s leader.
Operation Decisive Storm has achieved one success after another, whether militarily, politically or diplomatically, and is now approaching the end of its military operation once it achieves all of its projected objectives—and without the need for adopting a boisterous or disrespectful attitude. This marks the difference between Saudi policies, which are based on facts, and those of Iran, which rely on conspiracies, devious machinations and ostentatious displays of power.

Arab Shi’ites are Iran’s First Victims
Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Asharq Alawsat
Tuesday, 21 Apr, 2015
In the early days of my postgraduate university studies in London, I had a decent and frank Bahraini friend and colleague; he was a cultured and diligent researcher. This was during the time of the Iran–Iraq War, which naturally formed one of our main concerns.
One day, while discussing the war with my Bahraini friend in the college coffee bar, I expressed my surprise that Syria’s president Hafez Al-Assad was siding with Iran against Iraq. My friend smiled and replied: “Actually, I find your ‘surprise’ surprising,” adding that “Hafez Al-Assad is an Alawite, i.e. Shi’ite, and so is the Iranian regime, while Iraq’s political and security leadership is Sunni; thus it is obvious that Assad should back Iran!”
Naïvely I interjected, “but what about the ties of blood, language, history, and geographical proximity, let alone the common Ba’ath party affiliation?!”
To this, his reply was more decisive and came with a wider smile: “No, brother, the true political identity [in our part of the world] is decided by one’s religious sect, and anything else is just talk. Assad knows this is true and behaves accordingly”. He then said that “Iran’s revolution is a ‘decisive junction’ in our region, it is to our benefit and thus we must back it!”
That discussion opened my eyes and mind to the fact that there were several political trends and currents that blabber and lecture about Arabism, nationalist struggle, and common destiny day and night, without really meaning what they utter. Furthermore, despite my knowing full well that my Bahraini friend and colleague did not necessarily represent the majority Shi’ite public opinion, whether in Bahrain or the Middle East in general, I had to accept that many fanatically sectarian Shi’ites, as well as non-Shi’ite radicals, regarded Khomeini’s Islamic revolution a “decisive junction” in the sectarian, religious and ethnic history of the Middle East.
With regard to Lebanon—where I claim a better understanding of its fabric compared with that of other Arab political entities—the reality of the country’s Shi’ites was essentially quite far from the image drawn for them by Khomeini’s Iran, and later imposed on them by it through Hezbollah.
Lebanon’s Shi’ites lived in different socioeconomic environments at least until the 1950s and early 1960s. South Lebanon was basically a land of village-based agricultural feudalism, while Northern Beqaa was dominated by a clan/tribal structure. As for the Shi’ites of Mount Lebanon, most of those primarily living in the Byblos district and Southern Metn coastal areas are very much part of the local socioeconomic scene.
Ideologically, the Shi’ites of present-day Lebanon produced formidable nationalist figures on both the Lebanese and Arab levels. The Beqaa-born Rustum Haydar (1889–1940)—a royal adviser and cabinet minister in Iraq—was among the Arabist elite in the 1920s and 1930s. Another Shi’ite, Adham Khanjar, who hailed from South Lebanon, was a leading figure in the struggle against the French mandate; his arrest followed by his execution sparked the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925.
In the Lebanese sphere, Sabri Hamadeh, Ahmad Al-Ass’ad, Adel Osseiran and Yusuf Al-Zain were highly respected leaders in Lebanon’s struggle for independence in 1943. Later on, as Leftist, nationalist and other radical parties emerged, Lebanon’s Shi’ites were at the forefront of the country’s political life, more so during the Lebanese War (1975–1990). The Lebanese well remember dozens of prominent Shi’ite leaders and martyrs like Dr. Hussein Mroueh, Dr. Hassan Hamdan (nom de guerre: “Mahdi Aamel”), Moussa Shu’aib and Sanaa’ Muhaydli, who have nothing in common with the current state of “Shi’ite Subjugation” imposed on the community in Lebanon. All of them fought for “another Lebanon” that has nothing to do with the current “Shi’ite-dominated” Lebanon, and never believed in their community acting as a “fascist authoritarian” behemoth.