April 30/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with
Mark 10/32-41: "They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’ James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.

Bible Quotation For Today/When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.
First Letter to the Corinthians 04/09-16: "For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day. I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 29-30/15
They Died Because of Their Love for Jesus and Family/By Troy Augustine and Abebe Kibret/April 29/15
Nigeria Rescues Nearly 300 Women and Girls; Still No Sign of Chibok Girls/April 29/15
Boy in Pakistan Burned Alive Because He Admitted He Was A Christian/ICC/April 29/15
DEBKA reveals: Hizballah officers land in Tehran with Syrian defense chief. Iran OKs anti-Israel strategy/DEBKAfile/April 29/15

The Shape of Netanyahu's Emerging Coalition/
David Makovsky/Washington Institute/April 29/15
The beginning of the end in Syria/Michael Young/The Daily Star/April 29-30/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 29-30/15
Geagea Calls on Businessmen to Safeguard Interests of Expats
Report: 6 Hizbullah Members Killed as Nusra Hits Qalamun Supply Vehicles
Hariri lauds Saudi king's 'progressive' govt shake up 
Mashnouq Tours Dahiyeh as Security Plan Set to Include Fanar
Born in Israel, terrorists for Hezbollah
Texas man jailed for Hezbollah past
Berri softens tone towards Aoun
Berri Hails Security Plan, Calls for Fortifying Internal Scene
ISF Arrests Syrian Sea Captain for Smuggling Drugs to Europe, N. Africa
UNIFIL: Israel must withdraw from south Lebanon village
Europe should learn from Lebanon's refugee crisis: Italy official
Cabinet Extends Mobile Firms Contracts, Telecom Data Law
Two Suspects Linked to Ahmed Miqati Arrested in Bekaa Sefrin 
How to make the Lebanese love single malt whisky
France to send more weapons this summer 
Olive oil project looks to promote exports 
Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie’s “CHR” 

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 29-30/15
US Senate amends Iran nuclear agreement oversight bill with passage in mind
Saudi King names nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as new crown prince
Saudi King names son, Prince Mohammed, as Deputy Crown Prince
Saudi appoints Adel Al Jubeir, as new foreign minister
Saudi King meets New Zealand PM in Riyadh
Saudi succession plan sees West’s ‘elephant in room’ vanish
Enough of the blame games and excuses in the Mideast
Should a Gulf lobby be in the works?
After firing on ship, Iran says it's committed to freedom of navigation in Persian Gulf
EU wants Iran to play 'positive role' in Syria
FSA battle suspected ISIS militants near Golan Heights
Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal 'repeats mistakes' made with North Korea
Opinion: Benomar failed to represent the UN in Yemen
Netanyahu inches towards coalition; reaches deal with Kahlon, haredim
Hamas police beat, arrest protesters at Gaza rally
Syrian opposition to meet U.N. envoy for Geneva talks
Malaysian fatwa: Women MUST have sex with husbands, even on a camel
Europe seeks to reassure Libya over plans to stem migrant flow
Egypt sentences 69 to prison for church attack
Baltimore Rioting Quietens down after Curfew
UNIFIL Commander Says Israel Obligated to Withdraw from Northern Section of Ghajar

Jihad Watch Latest News
Senior Iranian cleric says Kerry told Iran’s negotiator he “wished U.S. had a leader like Iran’s supreme leader”
UK Muslim guilty of jihad plot to murder soldiers
Robert Spencer’s Blogging the Qur’an, Sura 4: ‘Women’
Reza Aslan hypes “Islamophobia”
Islamic State bombs Assyrian, Armenian churches in Syria
UK: School officials publicly humiliate students because parents refused permission for mosque visit
Muslim driver tries to run down cops at Minneapolis Airport
UK: Muslim candidate says she’ll never support “the Jew” Miliband for PM

Boy in Pakistan Burned Alive Because He Admitted He Was A Christian
By ICC's Pakistan Correspondent
4/28/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) - "Being Christian [means] being persecuted daily in this country," Asif Masih said to ICC in a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. "This is no longer a country for human being[s] or for liv[ing] a dignified life. There is no protection and no rule of law". On April 09, 2015, Noman Masih, 14, was burned alive by a group of unidentified Muslim youth in Lahore because of his religious identity as a Christian. The teenager was admitted to Mayo Hospital in Lahore shortly after the attack. Asif Masih, Noman's uncle, told ICC that Noman was an orphan and his mother remarried about two years ago, leaving him with his parental relatives. Due to a financial crisis, Noman's family was unable to educate him; therefore, he was being trained in as a tailor at a local vocational training center. While speaking with ICC from his hospital bed, Noman shared his story: "I have neither enemies, nor a dispute with anybody in the area I live. My tailor master asked me to go to the nearest market for some work and, on my way, [a] few men stopped me, asking my name and religion. I gave them my name and identified my religion as Christian. It was Friday prayer's time and not many people [were] on the road." "Suddenly they started beating and abusing me. I tried to rescue myself, however, [I] couldn't. One of them threw kerosene oil and [the] other set me on fire. With the help of the locals around I managed to stop the fire, however, [I became] unconscious," he added. Asif Masih was very upset over the prevailing persecutions against Christians in Pakistan. "I don't see [a] bright and secure future of Christian[s] in this country," he stated. The uncle condemned the incident and requested that media avoid publishing "generated and unauthentic" stories, which result in psychological stress for the Masih family. A policeman in civilian dress was delegated for Noman's safety in the hospital. While speaking with ICC, Ataurehman Saman, a human rights defender and publications coordinator at the National Commission for Justice and Peace, commented, "This incident speaks volumes about the lofty claims and statements of the officials regarding [the] protection of minorities in Pakistan. The occurrence reflects the prevailing hatred for religious minorities that has been allowed to flourish in the society by design, through media, [hateful] sermons and textbooks." "One can witness more horrible incidents against Christians in [the] future if [the] government is not inclined to show its will to take affirmative, positive, productive and concrete steps to tailor the torn fabric of our society," Saman added. According to the medical reports, 60% of Noman's upper body was burned during the attack. Unfortunately, due to the severity and extensive nature of his burns, Noman passed away a few days after he was admitted to the hospital.

Report: 6 Hizbullah Members Killed as Nusra Hits Qalamun Supply Vehicles
Six Hizbullah members have been reportedly killed in an ambush by the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria's Qalamun region near the border with Lebanon. The pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television said Wednesday the six men were killed when al-Nusra targeted Hizbullah “supply vehicles” in Qalamun. Meanwhile, the UAE-based Orient News TV, which opposes the Assad regime, said al-Nusra carried out a “major operation” against a Hizbullah “supply convoy” in the Syrian region. “Activists reported a huge explosion against a Hizbullah supply convoy in Qalamun and the loud blast was heard across the region,” the TV network said. In early January, five Hizbullah members and six Nusra militants were reportedly killed when the al-Qaida-affiliated group attacked posts controlled by the Lebanese party and the Syrian army in the Qalamun town of Flita. Al-Nusra announced on Twitter at the time that its fighters had planted landmines near posts controlled by Hizbullah and the Lebanese army in the border region. Flita is just across the Lebanese border from Arsal and is a crossing point which rebels and refugees have used regularly. Hizbullah has sent fighters across the border to aid Syrian regime troops in Qalamun and in several regions across Syria. Its involvement helped the Syrian army recapture most of Qalamun from rebel hands.
The Lebanese army for its part has been battling Syria-based militants from al-Nusra and the Islamic State group who are entrenched on the porous border between Lebanon and Syria. In August, jihadists from the two groups overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal and engaged in deadly fighting with the army. Around 20 troops were killed while at least 35 soldiers and policemen were taken hostage by the retreating militants.

UNIFIL: Israel must withdraw from south Lebanon village
The Daily Star/Apr. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: Israel must withdraw from the occupied Lebanese village of Ghajar in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, the head of the U.N.'s peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon has reiterated. “This area, which falls north of the Blue line, is a part of Lebanese territory,” Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano said in an interview published by As-Safir Wednesday. “And Israeli withdrawal is not negotiable - it is a commitment that Israel should follow through with.” The UNIFIL chief said that he has been “firm” in this demand during his meetings with Israeli authorities and noted that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also repeatedly raised the issue. Since 2006, UNIFIL has been issuing several suggestions that would allow for a peaceful withdrawal from the area, he said. The last proposal, which was submitted in 2011, was approved by the Lebanese Army but was met with no response from Israeli authorities, he added. The division of the village, possibly due to geographic circumstances, occurred following Israel’s 2000 military withdrawal from most of southern Lebanon. The northern part of the village was deemed by U.N. mapmakers to be Lebanese and the southern section Israeli. The two parts are divided by the Blue Line. Israel reoccupied northern Ghajar during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, stipulated that Israel must withdraw from northern Ghajar to south of the Blue Line. A plan was formulated in 2008 to help expedite the process, in which peacekeepers would replace Israel’s occupying force in northern Ghajar for an interim period. In spite of regular tripartite meetings between UNIFIL, Lebanon and Israel, little progress was made, with Israel repeatedly citing security concerns if the Lebanese Army, and by its own leap of logic Hezbollah, were allowed in the vicinity

Europe should learn from Lebanon's refugee crisis: Italy official
The Daily Star/Apr. 29, 2015 /BEIRUT: Europe could learn a lesson from Lebanon’s method of handling the mass influx of Syrian refugees, a visiting Italian official said after meeting Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Wednesday. “We highly value the way Lebanese institutions have dealt with the [refugee] crisis,” Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli said in a statement released by Bassil’s media office. “It is stunning and it has impressed the entire world and I think that Europe should learn a lesson from Lebanon.”Pistelli’s two-day visit seeks to assist Lebanon in managing the “unbelievable and unprecedented” strain imposed by the neighboring Syrian crisis, he said. Italy and other European nations have been engaged in fresh debate on how to deal with the influx of migrants fleeing the Middle East and North Africa in light of the April 19 migrant boat disaster in which about 800 people drowned off the coast of Libya. “Lebanon gives us a lesson on how a small state can bare large responsibilities.” The Italian official said that his visit seeks to provide aid programs to NGOs in the Bekaa Valley, south Lebanon and the north. He also said that Italy seeks to provide military assistance and training to the Lebanese Army. Pistelli said that he held talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Speaker Nabih Berri earlier Wednesday. Asked whether Italy would provide financial assistance to Lebanese institutions in light of the refugee crisis, the official said that the two countries are working on bilateral programs which include donations and loans valued at $155 million. Pistelli arrived in Beirut Tuesday.

Geagea Calls on Businessmen to Safeguard Interests of Expats
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called on Lebanese businessmen to safeguard the interests of the expats abroad, expressing concern over the campaign targeting Saudi Arabia and its repercussions. Geagea stressed after a meeting with a delegation from the Lebanese Business and Investment Council in Saudi Arabia that endeavors are ongoing to reduce any harm targeting Lebanese businessmen in any foreign country. The gatherers discussed the challenges facing expats in the Gulf due to a "campaign of falsifications," targeting in particular Saudi Arabia. "Businessmen are concerned... they don't understand the reason behind the verbal assault as it doesn't match the kingdom's hosting of a large number of Lebanese," Geagea pointed out. The LF leader conveyed the concerns of the businessmen over their interests, expressing relief over the kingdom's positive role in Lebanon. Geagea called on Lebanese politicians not to harm the interests of the Lebanese. Hizbullah has been recently directing a barrage of criticism at Saudi Arabia over its airstrike campaign targeting Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels. Hizbullah officials have warned Riyadh that it would be defeated and would pay a heavy price for its attacks. There are around 500,000 Lebanese expats in the Gulf. Last month, the UAE, which hosts 100,000 Lebanese workers, expelled around 70 expatriates, mostly Shiites. In 2009, dozens of Lebanese Shiites who had lived in the UAE for years were expelled on suspicion of links with Hizbullah. In 2013, Qatar deported 18 Lebanese nationals after the Gulf Cooperation Council decided to impose sanctions against Hizbullah for its military intervention in war-torn Syria to support President Bashar Assad.

Mashnouq Tours Dahiyeh as Security Plan Set to Include Fanar
Naharnet /Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq toured on Wednesday Beirut's southern suburbs in the light of the security deployment in the area after a security plan kicked off.
“The security is restored in several areas across Lebanon despite the conflict in the region,” Mashnouq said in a press conference from al-Ouzai area. He stressed that “security forces will not cease their campaign until a list of outlaws are detained,” pointing out that “forces will continue to pursue offenders even if the implementation of the plan ended.” Mashnouq considered that the security plans enforced by the security agencies and the political dialogue between the rival parties aim at safeguarding the country. “The Lebanese have chosen to stand by the state,” the minister said, adding: “All areas are under the state control.” Mashnouq was expected to visit the headquarters of Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance bloc in Dahiyeh as he toured the area. The army issued a communique later on Wednesday saying that the enforcement of the security plan in Beirut and Dahiyeh is ongoing in cooperation with the General Security and Internal Security Forces. “The houses of several wanted suspects were raided in Hay al-Sellom, Haret Hreik and Leilaki,” the statement pointed out.
It said that a number of Lebanese outlaws were detained, among them a Palestinian national, on charges of opening fire and the use of force against a security patrol.
The Interior Ministry earlier expressed relief in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper on Wednesday over the implementation of a security plan in Beirut and its southern suburbs, stressing that “security is under the state's control.”
“The people and Hizbullah are widely cooperating with the rules set by the security forces,” the ministry's sources told the daily.
“The plan has no certain timeframe... there's a list of outlaws,” the ministry said. The sources revealed that “the plan will soon include al-Zoaiteriyeh neighborhood in al-Fanar.”On Tuesday, the army and Internal Security Forces took into force a security plan in Beirut and its southern suburbs to apprehend outlaws, the military announced in a statement. The plan will last several days as security forces strike with an iron fist to arrest offenders. The army called on the citizens to comply with the security measures “in order preserve their safety and ensure that their daily routines are not interrupted.”It also urged them to report any suspicious activity or security incident they may encounter. The security plan, which includes Hizbullah's stronghold of Dahiyeh, is reportedly widely supported by the party and its Shiite ally AMAL movement. However, the early announcement of the plan granted offenders time to evade security forces and flee to unknown whereabouts, similarly to the plan implemented in the eastern Bekaa Valley. Prominent offenders fled the Bekaa after security forces announced the zero-hour of the plan, which kicked off in February and dozens of wanted suspects have since been arrested. A similar plan was adopted by the government in 2014 and implemented in the northern city of Tripoli.

Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal 'repeats mistakes' made with North Korea
By JPOST.COM STAFF/J.Post/04/29/2015/Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday warned that the recent framework agreement on a Iranian nuclear deal "repeated the mistakes" made during nuclear negotiations with North Korea. The premier reiterated his condemnation of the outline accord reached in early April in Lusanne, Switzerland on Iran's disputed nuclear program, calling it a "historic mistake." During a meeting with with South Korea's Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea, Netanyahu indicated that the tentative agreement would lead to the breakout of nuclear weapons in Iran similar to that declared by North Korea in 2009. "We remember the lessons from the nuclear negotiations with North Korea. It was said that supervision would prevent enrichment; it was said that the issue would curb North Korean aggression; it was said that North Korea would be moderated within the global community," Netanyahu said, adding that, " unfortunately the Lusanne (Iran) deal repeats these mistakes." Netanyahu vehemently opposes the framework agreement reached between Tehran and the so-called P5+1 powers, and condemns what he views as its leniency that will allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons capabilities under the radar of proposed supervision. Last week, a Wall Street Journal reported cited Chinese nuclear experts warning that North Korea may already have 20 nuclear warheads and the capability to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year. North Korea has conducted three nuclear detonations, the most recent in February 2013. Pointing toward Iran and North Korea, Netanyahu noted to the visiting South Korean minister that both of their countries "face the threat of rogue states." **Reuters contributed to this report.

After firing on ship, Iran says it's committed to freedom of navigation in Persian Gulf
By REUTERS, MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/04/29/2015/NEW YORK - Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday offered assurances that Tehran is committed to maintaining freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf in the aftermath of the seizure of a commercial ship by Iranian forces a day earlier. "The Persian Gulf is our lifeline ... We will respect international navigation," Mohammad Javad Zarif told an audience at New York University. "For us, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is a must." Iranian naval forces shot at, boarded and confiscated a commercial vessel transiting the Straits of Hormuz on Tuesday. The MV Maersk Tigris, a 65,000-ton container ship, was flying a Marshall Islands flag and operated by Rickmers Shipmanagement, a Singaporean company. The ship departed from the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah and was bound for the United Arab Emirates. According to Iranian staterun media, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the ship under court order for “legal reasons,” which the Pentagon called “provocative” several hours later. The Maersk Tigris initially ignored Iranian patrol boats that ordered it deeper into Iranian territorial waters, but complied after the vessels fired several warning shots, US Col. Steve Warren said. US forces in the region responded to its distress calls by sending the USS Farragut, a destroyer, to monitor the situation along with reconnaissance aircraft. The ship, which is currently in Iranian custody, is not carrying any US citizens, Warren added. Iranian media claimed the ship was American, sailing under a false flag, while noting that its 34 crew members were mostly European. The US has a compact with the Marshall Islands, formally known as the Compact of Free Association, which allows the US to use Marshall Islands land for military purposes in exchange for a US commitment to the defense of its assets. The State Department said the ship was traversing an “internationally recognized maritime route,” though it was not immediately clear if that route was in international or Iranian waters. The Obama administration has had several close-calls with Iran at sea. The US last publicly threatened to board and inspect ships carrying Iranian arms in 2014, when a vessel under a Panama flag was sailing toward Gaza. Israel volunteered to board the ship instead, and arrested its crew.

EU wants Iran to play 'major but positive role' in Syria
Ynetnews/Published: 04.29.15 / Israel News
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says nuclear deal can help Iran become a 'postive force' in region, help 'encourage the regime to (support) a Syrian-led transition.'The European Union's top diplomat on Tuesday voiced the hope that Iran would play an important but constructive role in a renewed United Nations push to restart negotiations aimed at ending the four-year civil war in Syria. The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has said he will begin meeting in May with the country's government, opposition groups and regional powers including Iran to assess by the end of June whether there is any hope brokering an end to the war.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in New York on Tuesday, said it was crucial that the EU and six world powers successfully conclude nuclear talks with Tehran, which she said could boost Iran's regional role in a positive manner. "The best possible approach you can have is ... on one side have a positive outcome of the nuclear talks so that we can be sure that they cannot develop a nuclear weapon," she said.
"On the other side, call for Iran to play a major, major but positive, role on Syria in particular, to encourage the regime to ... (support) a Syrian-led transition," she said, referring to a 2012 UN plan for a political transition in Syria that has yet to be translated into reality.
The deadline for a final nuclear deal with Iran is June 30. Iran and the six powers reached a tentative deal on April 2.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked de Mistura earlier this month to "focus much more to re-launch a political process" after his attempt to broker a local truce in Aleppo failed to materialize. The United States and some Arab countries have resisted the inclusion of Iran in Syrian peace talks, because they see Tehran as the problem, not the solution. Iran has been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a staunch ally. Mogherini suggested that including Iran was crucial. "I understand very well the concerns of many Arab countries, not only Arab countries, in the region on the role of Iran," she said. "But I am also convinced that it would be naive to imagine that a country like Iran could simply disappear from the map."Mogherini will also meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Wednesday. She said she will discuss disagreements on sanctions and other sticking points in the nuclear talks with both Zarif and Kerry.

Born in Israel, terrorists for Hezbollah
Yossi Yehoshua/Ynetnews/Published: 04.29.15/ Israel News
Two terrorists killed by IDF troops while laying out explosives on Syrian border were brothers from the Druze town of Majdal Shams on Israeli side of Golan Heights. Two of the four terrorists killed by Israel Defense Forces troops on the Syrian border on Sunday were brothers from the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights. Tair Mahmoud, 34, and his 22-year-old sibling Nazih were born in Majdal Shams, but later moved to the village of Hader on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The brothers had been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces. They were killed laying explosives to target IDF troops - a move thought to have been the handiwork of Hezbollah. A Lebanese news site reported the four were part of the Syrian Resistance organization formed in the area and trained by Hezbollah.
"They lived just across the border. We would see them when they'd come out to hang the washing," their aunt, Sahar Mahmoud, who lives in Majdal Shams, said Monday. "I find it hard to believe that they were really trying to lay an explosive device as it's been claimed, and it's very difficult for me to hear that they were killed. Nazih was supposed to be getting married on Friday and was counting the days. Who goes out to plant explosive devices before his wedding?" Upon receiving the news about the brothers' deaths, family members in Majdal Shams set up a mourners' tent in the town, with some relatives describing the two as "martyrs" and "heroes."
Majdal Shams Mayor Dolan Abu Saleh, however, strongly condemned the establishment of the tent, noting: "It's absurd. While the IDF busies itself with the defense of the Golan Heights and the residents of the town, there are those who are spitting into the well from which they drink." The spiritual leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Muwaffak Tarif, also issued a statement of condemnation on Monday. "What matters to us is the existence of the State of Israel and its security," the statement read.
"These Druze do not represent any Druze in the country, and the vast majority in the Golan do not support such criminal acts."

The Shape of Netanyahu's Emerging Coalition
David Makovsky/Washington Institute
April 29, 2015
Israel's next government may have a turbulent start given its relative lack of political moderates, but a rightward trajectory on settlements and other issues is not guaranteed.
The preliminary outlines of Binyamin Netanyahu's fourth coalition are beginning to take shape ahead of the May 7 deadline for forming Israel's next government. While final coalition agreements with the individual parties have yet to be signed, it will likely be a right-of-center government comprising 67 members of the 120-seat parliament, and its projected composition offers early indications of Israel's near-term priorities and direction.
Led by Netanyahu's Likud faction (which won 30 seats in the March elections), the coalition will likely include the following parties: Kulanu (10 seats), Jewish Home (8), Shas (7), United Torah Judaism (6), and Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Is Our Home) (6). The resultant government is expected be more hawkish on foreign policy, more ultraorthodox in composition, and more populist in economic orientation. These dimensions will create challenges for Netanyahu, who is well aware that when it comes to foreign relations, it is easier to govern from the center than from the right.
Netanyahu's past modus operandi was to win elections from the right, then try to edge toward the center when building his coalition. During last month's campaign, however, declining poll numbers led him to believe he had to box himself in to garner enough votes. Accordingly, he made clear that he did not want a national unity government with the rival Labor Party, alleging that the policy gaps were too wide. Although this won him adherents on the right, it meant he would not be able to incorporate key leftward voices in his coalition.
In his past two governments, Netanyahu was careful to include a prominent leader and party from the center-left, especially when it came to the Palestinian issue. In 2009, it was a fifteen-member faction led by Labor's Ehud Barak. And in 2013, he secured twenty-five coalition seats by naming Justice Minister Tzipi Livni as co-chief negotiator in the peace process and including Finance Minister Yair Lapid as another voice counseling moderation. This time, however, Labor leader Isaac Herzog has made clear that his party will not be a fifth wheel in a right-leaning government, an idea he also resisted during the previous government.
Yet the right's apparent triumph may not be as complete as some believe. For example, members of the Jewish Home settler faction will no longer be in charge of the Housing Ministry as they were in the previous government, when they immediately created tension with Washington over settlement policy. Affordable housing inside sovereign Israel was a central issue in the campaign, so the party most associated with lowering the cost of living -- Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu -- has been pushing to take over the housing portfolio. Accordingly, Kulanu member Yoav Galant is now expected to head that ministry. During the election, Kahlon reiterated his belief that Israelis should not settle beyond the major blocs adjacent to the West Bank security barrier; the question is whether the new coalition's settlement approach will reflect this view, in practice if not in stated policy. The previous housing minister, settler leader Uri Ariel, will reportedly take over the settlement portfolio in the Agriculture Ministry, but this move is a step down, so it is unclear what resources he will have at his disposal.
Indeed, Jewish Home's representation in the coalition has shrunk from twelve to eight seats, and the two ultraorthodox factions are too consumed with economic woes and religious agendas to focus on nationalist issues like settlements. When Netanyahu begged the right to vote for him in order to avert a Labor victory, Likud's support sharply increased at Jewish Home's expense -- in fact, at least ten of the thirty Likud parliamentarians personally owe their seats to his last-ditch campaign drive, so he should hold sway over a good portion of his list when it comes to settlement policy.
As for the peace process, it is interesting to note that no one protested when Netanyahu recently lifted the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenues, which had been frozen when the Palestinian Authority joined the International Criminal Court earlier this month. It is unclear whether the silence was due to Netanyahu's increased influence or his realization that the twilight between two governments is ideal for policymaking, since rivals do not want to cause problems while waiting to be appointed.
Going forward, the question is whether the new government can align its settlement policy with Netanyahu's postelection clarification that he remains committed to a two-state solution. President Obama is skeptical of that clarification, so an Israeli pledge to avoid further settling beyond the blocs adjacent to the security barrier could ease friction with the White House. Beyond that, however, expectations of a new peace initiative are low, due in no small part to the mutual distrust between Netanyahu and PA president Mahmoud Abbas. European governments might take action of their own, since some officials believe that a new right-wing government in Israel means direct negotiations are futile. Yet they also privately acknowledge Abbas's complicity in the current impasse, so Washington will likely urge them not to push for an imposed UN Security Council solution -- at least until Netanyahu's new government can offer its own peace initiative.
One issue that will likely be unaffected by the right's increased prominence is Iran. Given his visceral views on the subject, Netanyahu has personally guided Israeli policy toward Iran, and this will likely remain the case given that Moshe Yaalon and Avigdor Liberman will stay on as defense minister and foreign minister, respectively. Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett initially had his eyes on the Foreign Ministry, but the party's drop in seats led him to seek the education portfolio instead.
At least three fissures are apparent within the emerging government. First, two key Likud members, Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin, have supported the controversial Nationalities Bill, which essentially states that if Israel's Jewish and democratic values come into conflict on a given issue, then its Jewish character should hold sway -- a position that has raised worries inside and outside Israel given its potential implications for non-Jewish minorities. Kahlon says he will oppose such legislation, pointing out that Likud founder Menachem Begin himself placed a premium on civil liberties.
A second fault line has emerged between Liberman and the ultraorthodox, who could use their new position in the government to block legislation that would ease conversion rules for hundreds of thousands of non-Jews from Russia. The Chief Rabbinate expedited such conversions under more moderate leadership in the 1970s, but it is now under greater ultraorthodox influence. This issue greatly concerns Liberman because his Yisrael Beitenu is the main party of secular Russian immigrants. Yet even if Liberman's faction left the government, Netanyahu would maintain a thin majority in Knesset.
Third, incoming finance minister Kahlon may spar with Netanyahu because he believes the prime minister's policies have benefitted business interests at the expense of people struggling to enter the middle class. If the two leaders can work together on creating greater economic competition (e.g., by moving away from a system in which Israel has only a handful of banks), they could help address concerns about national monopolies and crony capitalism. Thus far, Kahlon has successfully held out for key bureaucratic levers in finance and housing, believing they are indispensable to success.
Israel's next government may have a turbulent start due to its relative lack of political moderates, not to mention Netanyahu's ongoing tension with the Obama administration over Iran. Ultimately, the world will judge the new government on its policies -- and given Netanyahu's increased leverage and right-of-center coalition choices, people will likely attribute these policies to his personal imprimatur rather than to coalition constraints.
**David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute.

Saudi King names nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as new crown prince
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Wednesday appointed his nephew, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as the new crown prince. A royal decree aired on state TV announced that Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also the kingdom’s interior minister, and is widely known internationally as Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism czar, will replace (now former) Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz who had requested to step down.“We have decided to respond to His Highness and what he had expressed about his desire to be relieved from the position of crown prince,” said a statement from the royal court, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. The statement also said Muqrin was also relieved of his position as deputy prime minister.The decree named “Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince” as well as deputy prime minister and said he will continue to hold his position of interior minister and head of the political and security council, a coordinating body. This comes amid a series of reappointments across the kingdom’s cabinet which saw the appointment of Ambassador to the U.S. Adel Al Jubeir as the new foreign minister. King Salman also called upon Saudis to pledge allegiance to the new crown prince and new deputy crown prince today.

Saudi King names son, Prince Mohammed, as Deputy Crown Prince
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Wednesday appointed his son and Defense Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as deputy crown prince. A royal decree read on state TV said Mohammed bin Salman will “be deputy crown prince.”He will keep his position as minister of defense and head of the economic and development council. The majority of the Allegiance Council, whose work was formalized under King Abdullah before his passing in January, voted in favor of appointing Prince Mohammed bin Salman as deputy crown prince, Al Arabiya reported. Hamad Al Swailem will replace Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the head of the Saudi Royal Court, according to a separate royal decree carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Also on Wednesday, King Salman appointed his nephew, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown prince and called upon Saudis to pledge allegiance to the new crown prince and new deputy crown prince. The newly-appointed crown prince received his bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University. He held many positions during his professional career of 10 years. He inaugurated his political career as a consultant to the Experts Commission under the Saudi Cabinet and in 2009 was appointed special advisor to then Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, who at the time was governor of Riyadh Province. As special adviser, Prince Mohammed also served as secretary-general of the Riyadh Competitive Council. He was also a special advisor to the chairman of the Board for the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives. Prince Mohammed bin Salman then became Supervisor of Prince Salman, the Crown Prince’s Office.In a March 2013 royal decree, he was appointed head of the Crown Prince Court with the rank of minister and special advisor to then Prince Salman. His appointment as deputy crown prince comes amid a cabinet reshuffle which saw the appointment of the kingdom’s Ambassador to the U.S. Adel Al Jubeir as the country’s new foreign minister.

Saudi appoints Adel Al Jubeir, as new foreign minister
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud appointed Adel Al Jubeir, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States as the country’s new foreign minister in a wave of reappointments across his cabinet, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Wednesday.
Aramco CEO Khalid Al Falih was appointed the new minister of health. Aramco described Al Falih as “chairman of the Saudi Aramco board of directors and outgoing president and CEO” in a statement on Wednesday about a recent board meeting on Wednesday, appearing to confirm that he had been appointed as chairman, Reuters news agency reported. King Salman also appointed Adel Al Fakieh, the labor minister as economy and planning minister early on Wednesday, and appointed Mufrej Al Haqbani as labour minister, as per a royal decree released early Wednesday. Jubeir served as the Saudi ambassador to the United States since 2007 and will be replacing Prince Saud Al Faisal, appointed as foreign minister in 1975. Prince Faisal had asked to be relieved of his duties.
The top diplomat is a familiar face in Western media as he often spoke to reporters about Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the University of North Texas in 1982 and a master’s in international relations from Georgetown in 1984.Meanwhile, Al-Faisal was appointed as an advisor and a special envoy of King Salman, as well as a supervisor on foreign affairs, the royal decree added.

DEBKA reveals: Hizballah officers land in Tehran with Syrian defense chief. Iran OKs anti-Israel strategy
DEBKAfile Special Report April 29, 2015
A high-level Hizballah delegation arrived secretly in Tehran Tuesday, April 28, along with the large military group led by Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, debkafile’s intelligence sources report exclusively. Both are taking part in the four days of military and intelligence consultations with Iranian officials on the war situation in Syria and the steps planned against Israel. According to a senior Gulf intelligence official, “The parties quickly finalized their plans of action against Israel, and the IDF will no doubt face on the Golan a far more active and intense front than they have seen yet.”
The failed attempt Sunday, April 26, by a Druze squad to plant a bomb near an Israeli military border post in northern Golan was just a foretaste of the coming offensive, according to the source.
He found Hizballah’s active participation in the Syrian-Iranian military talks in Tehran entirely natural, in view of the doubling of the Lebanese Shiite organization’s combat troops fighting alongside the Syrian army to roughly 7,000. This figure is over and above the missile, intelligence and logistics units assisting the Syrian war effort now in its fifth year.
debkafile reported earlier that the Syrian rocket-mortar fire on Golan Tuesday was timed for Gen. Freij’s arrival in Tehran to collect his next orders.
The two rockets or mortar shells from Syria which exploded on the Golan at noon Tuesday, April 28, followed by alerts along the Galilee border with Syria, were timed to coincide exactly with the arrival in Tehran of a large Syrian military delegation led by Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij. High on the agenda of his consultations with Iranian leaders was no doubt the explosive situation developing on the Syrian-Israeli border.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah are reported by debkafile’s intelligence sources to have held urgent discussions in the last few days on how to react to the two Israeli air strikes reported by Arab media to have been conducted Wednesday, April 22 and Friday, April 24, on their Qalamoun mountain missile bases.
Both needed to hear from Tehran how far they could count on Iranian support in the event of a military showdown with Israel.
Israeli military spokesmen have gone out of their way to play down the risk of any further security deterioration. After the fragments of at least two rockets or mortar shells were discovered Tuesday on the land of Kibbutz Ein Zivan near the border fence opposite Quneitra, military sources tried to calm people by attributing them to “spillover” from the fighting on the Syrian side of the border. The farmers were nonetheless advised to stop work in the apple and cherry orchards, and would not be surprised if the Syrians kept up their cross-border fire to provide “background music” for their defense minister’s discussions in Tehran.
The IDF also omitted mentioning that the squad of four terrorists which tried Sunday, April 26, to plant an explosive device near an Israeli border post in this same area – and was liquidated by the Israeli Air Force – were Druze militiamen, recruited and trained by Hizballah and given their assignment by Syria’s southern intelligence chief, Wafeeq Naser.
debkafile’s military sources calculate that the coming hours may be critical for Israel’s northern front against Syria and Hizballah. If Tehran gives the nod, both are liable to ratchet up their assaults on northern Israel’s Golan and Galilee regions.
They won’t have to wait for Gen. Al-Freij’s return to learn about this decision. The appropriate directives may be flashed directly from Tehran to the Iranian officers based at Syrian staff headquarters in Damascus and serving in the military facilities in southern Syria and opposite the Golan.
Assad may welcome this outlet to vent his frustration as his army licks its wounds from the loss Saturday, April 25, of the strategic town of Jisr al-Shukjhour in the northern Syrian Idlib province, to a coalition of opposition forces calling itself the Army of Conquest. This puts the rebels in position to threaten one of Assad’s most important strongholds, Latakia. The Syrian ruler, if he wants to survive, can’t hope to weather both the Idlib defeat and Israeli air strikes in less than a week, without hitting back.

They Died Because of Their Love for Jesus and Family
The story of three Ethiopian martyrs who claimed Christ and sought better lives for their struggling families to the end
By Troy Augustine and Abebe Kibret
04/29/15 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - On April 19, the world witnessed the brutal execution of approximately 30 Ethiopian and Eritean Christians, killed by ISIS militants in Libya. The war-torn country has become a stronghold for the jihadist group, and they have declared a war on local Christians. One could question, "Why would these men risk entering such a dangerous area?" This is the story of three of those men, and what led to them being martyred as Christians in Libya.
Life in impoverished Ethiopia is grueling. While the economy has grown more than ten percent per year over the past decade, the average income in Ethiopia is still less than two dollars per day. Facing this kind of financial strain, Eyasu Yekuneamlak, Balcha Belete, and Eliyas Teshane and their families are left to scrape by through any possible means - even if the best option available is to literally risk their necks by traveling to Europe or the Middle East, crossing through the terrorist-infested Libyan desert.
These men made that difficult decision to leave their homes to pursue better chances to provide for their families. They died claiming the Name of Christ to the end.
Best Friends Martyred Together
Eyasu Yekuneamlak and Balcha Belete were best friends growing up in the impoverished Cherkos neighborhood of Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. At age 31, Yekuneamlak was responsible for caring and providing for his weak and destitute mother. As the youngest in the family, he was tasked with covering his mother's expenses, a tradition most Ethiopians hold. Since his mother was unable to work for herself, Yekuneamlak drove a taxi and served as the main breadwinner for the family.
But, driving the taxi proved insufficient for his family, so the financial stress forced him out of Ethiopia to seek better employment abroad. He first worked in Qatar, where he regularly sent money back to Ethiopia to support his ailing mother, younger brother, and sisters. However, when he disagreed with his Muslim bosses, Yekuneamlak was imprisoned and deported back to Ethiopia. He was left to search for other work in Europe where he might not face that kind of mistreatment. The best way to get there was going through Libya and from there, crossing the Mediterranean Sea on a boat. Yekuneamlak never got that far.
Yekuneamlak's best friend, 35-year-old Balcha Belete, worked for the Ethiopian Electric service provider. However, his older brother says that Belete was dissatisfied with the working conditions and sought to make more money to support his family.
"Their only dream was to get out of poverty," Yekuneamlak's brother Siyume said. Therefore, the two men left their families in Cherkos, determined to seek greener pastures. They traversed through Sudan before crossing into Libya where ISIS kidnapped them. Both men died refusing to deny Christ. They were both shot execution style in the head from point-blank range somewhere in the Libyan desert.
He Died Supporting an Ailing Father
Eliyas Teshane, 27, had just graduated college and hoped to make money to care for his father, Ato, who is suffering from mental illness. The best way Teshane knew how was to travel to Europe and put his college education to good use, reaching the earning potential his new degree offered him to support his sister and dad.
Unfortunately, Teshane never made it, as he was captured and slaughtered for his faith.
Eliyas Teshane, 27, had just graduated college and hoped to make money to care for his father, Ato, who is suffering from mental illness. The best way Teshane knew how was to travel to Europe and put his college education to good use, reaching the earning potential his new degree offered him to support his sister and dad.
Unfortunately, Teshane never made it, as he was captured and slaughtered for his faith.
"At first, we taught our kids to follow the Word of God, hoping to be blessed in our life and trying to abstain from any bad people. In the end, they died and we will die in the name of Lord. So, our eyes look to God," Ato Teshane said.
International Christian Concern (ICC) is working to provide relief assistance to Teshane who needs continual medical care. The Teshane family is just one of the 30 affected by the barbarous acts of ISIS. ICC urges all who are concerned to please pray and consider giving to assist the families of the ISIS video victims.
The men who died without denying Jesus showed themselves faithful to the end, modeling what the Bible teaches that a godly life looks like: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)

Nigeria Rescues Nearly 300 Women and Girls; Still No Sign of Chibok Girls
4/29/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - The Nigerian military has rescued nearly 300 girls and women who were captives of Islamic terror group Boko Haram (BH), but one military official said that they are not the missing schoolgirls from Chibok.
"The troops rescued 200 abducted girls (not Chibok girls) and 93 women," Colonel Sani Usman said. Soldiers stumbled upon the group of females during a raid against one of the last strongholds of BH in the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, northern Nigeria.
The operation took place just 60 miles away from Chibok, where on April 14, 2014, BH fighters kidnapped 276 mostly Christian teenaged school girls and subsequently threatened to sell them into sexual slavery as brides to BH militants. Though dozens of the girls from Chibok have since escaped the clutches of BH, 219 still remain captive.
Hope continues to fade with each day that passes and each town that is liberated without the Chibok girls turning up. Many worry that they have either been killed already or sold into slavery and, as a result, won't be rescued.
BH has reportedly kidnapped more than 2,000 women over the last 18 months. Over the last several years, the group has terrorized northern Nigeria, ransacking towns and targeting Christians in their quest to establish an Islamic state in Africa. Their barbarism is extreme, forcing Christians at gunpoint to convert to Islam or die, while also carrying out suicide attacks, burning churches, stealing sons, daughters, wives, sisters and brothers, often subjecting them to sexual violence.
While military forces seemingly close in on BH leader Abubakar Shekau, more dead bodies are being uncovered, leaving the world to wonder if the Chibok girls are among those numbers. On April 28, reports suggested that nearly 400 decomposing bodies were discovered in the town of Damasak. "They were all thrown in the river, and now the river has dried up," said a local government official.
"We were mobilized by the state authorities to bury them and we did it accordingly. The bodies include those of women and children as well as agile men," one Damasak resident added. Nigerian forces liberated Damasak one month earlier where a pile of approximately 100 corpses was found under a bridge with their throats slit. The bodies have yet to be identified, but initially, officials feared that the Chibok girls might be included among those dead.
The past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for the parents of the Chibok girls, heartbroken by the news. Within a week of the kidnapping in 2014, the Nigerian military said the majority of the girls had been rescued, which proved to be untrue. Today, every report of dead bodies found or girls liberated builds stress upon hope dashed that they will ever be reunited with their daughters.
International Christian Concern's (ICC) Regional Manager of Africa Troy Augustine says, "Today, ICC celebrates the rescue of these women and girls from Sambisa Forest. At the same time, we urge everyone to continue to pray for all of those who remain missing in the hands of BH insurgents. The kinds of persecution and torture that these victims must be facing on a daily basis is unimaginable. But as long as they are still alive, hope remains for the Chibok girls and countless others BH has abducted to also one day again taste freedom."

Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie’s “CHR”

Hiba Huneini| The Daily Star/Apr. 30, 2015
The first visit of Salma Hayek to her ancestral homeland, Lebanon, aimed to launch the animated feature film “The Prophet” attracted all the national and international media. Promoting the artwork of one of the most prominent Lebanese-American poets in history, Gibran Khalil Gibran, puts Lebanon under the spotlight again to highlight its cultural assets. This stresses the importance of culture as the driving factor for achieving sustainable development. With culture, we can reinforce our identity and fill people with hope to re-build the bridge of trust among them that has been cracked or destroyed in many societies.Besides Salma Hayek’s cultural mission, she has played a humanitarian role by visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon to raise awareness on the urgent humanitarian needs of children and families affected by the Syrian crisis. Hayek also launched the “CHIME for the Children of Syria” campaign to support UNICEF’s efforts to ensure access of education and services to heal the psychosocial impact of the brutal violence they experienced.
“CHIME for the Children of Syria” is part of the global campaign “CHIME for Change” founded by Gucci to use innovative approaches and tools for raising funds and awareness on issues related to education, health and justice.
Salma Hayek’s humanitarian visit and support to Syrian refugees was preceded few days ago by the speech of Angelina Jolie Pitt, special envoy for Refugee Issues of UNHCR, in the Security Council meeting held on April 24, 2015. As the crisis in Syria enters its fifth year, with more than 220,000 killed, 7.6 million displaced and nearly 4 million people seeking refuge in neighboring countries, the meeting called for coordinated international support to hinder the Syrian crisis that has become the largest humanitarian emergency in the world.
“I am here for them because this is their United Nations,” is what Angelina declared in her speech in the name of Syrians’ pain, anger and misery. Such a famous actor was not using the stage but an international political platform to speak out loud and question the Security Council’s credibility and its ability to stem conflicts. Her messages have been followed all over the globe to reach equally concerned and unconcerned people about the Syrian crisis.
This meeting has been considered an essential turning point in the Syrian crisis at the level of criticizing the international response that had so far fallen short of meeting the needs and expectations. However, following the media coverage of the Security Council meeting was a learning process on the effective humanitarian and social work a celebrity can play in mobilizing people and affecting decision-makers.
Angelina Jolie has been part of the United Nations system for 13 years, working in humanitarian aid in silence with no tokenism, propaganda or fashion designers. This proves the power of investing one’s fame and success in being a change-maker that can raise awareness and advocate through reaching all social classes and targets.
Other examples of celebrities using their voices for various causes have been recorded all over the world. For instance, Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t stand as an actor but as a concerned citizen at the U.N. Climate Summit in 2014. He addressed the climate crisis as the greatest challenge that we should all face with courage. In recognition of his environmental commitment, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated DiCaprio as the U.N. Messenger of Peace on Climate Change due to his credibility in working on the climate change cause.
The deteriorating situation in the region urgently requires massive work and innovative tools in responding to our crisis and emerging needs.
The humanitarian missions and leading roles of such actors and celebrities the increased need for developing and promoting the Celebrity’s Humanitarian Responsibility “CHR” concept.
As Corporate Social Responsibility “CSR” is being promoted and elaborated, “CHR” should be documented and studied scientifically as an essential tool in humanitarian aid and sustainable development work. This is due to celebrites’ power of rapidly affecting the public opinion, as well as ensuring the community participation and engagement in any cause or intervention.
Our question should be put to our national and regional celebrities in the Arab world:
When will the true concept of “Celebrity’s Humanitarian Responsibility” be adopted and integrated as part of your work for the sake of the millions that are dying and suffering in our eroding societies?
**Hiba Huneini is acting manager of Youth & Civic Engagement Program at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.

The beginning of the end in Syria
Michael Young/The Daily Star/ Apr. 30, 2015
President Bashar Assad’s regime is beginning to crumble despite assistance from Iran and its allies. However, such a prospect did not prevent the recent liquidation of Rustom Ghazaleh, once the head of Syria’s military intelligence network in Lebanon.
The Syrian regime’s loss of Idlib and Busra al-Sham in recent weeks, followed by the defeat in the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughur last week, has exposed the gangrene at the heart of Assad rule. Something has been broken in the Alawite backbone of the state, with younger men in the community preferring to escape Syria rather than sacrifice themselves for a leader who cannot conceivably endure in the long term.
What are the Iranians thinking? They have made Assad’s political survival a strategic priority, but the incompetence and brutality of his regime – to which Iran has amply contributed – have ensured the task is unachievable. Even with Iranian and Russian help Assad is losing ground rapidly. Partly that’s because the life is gone from his armed forces, which have been successful only in their campaign to slaughter tens of thousands of civilians.
What the Iranian regime has failed to grasp is that violence and terrorization are rarely sufficient to keep a leader in office indefinitely. For the past four years Assad has deployed no other methods. He never offered those who fought on his behalf a vision of a desirable future that would make them pursue the fight. To stick with Assad offered no compensations, no light at the end of the tunnel. Only more depravity and abuse.
There are those who argue that the war in Syria will continue for some time yet. Assad is well-entrenched in Damascus and Iran will invest what it takes to ensure that he doesn’t fall. Perhaps. But then what? How will the Iranian security establishment reverse the tide? Assad is not salvageable. The cohesiveness of the regime is disintegrating amid myriad rifts. Even Hezbollah, whose men are dying to ensure that Assad stays, has nothing but contempt for the Syrian army. The corpse’s stench is growing and no amount of Iranian stubbornness will reverse this.
Ghazaleh’s fate is a reminder of affairs in Damascus. While many believed his death was a result of disagreements within the Syrian security establishment over Iran’s exaggerated role in Syria, the truth may be more prosaic. As the Special Tribunal for Lebanon refocuses on Syria’s role in the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, it may be that the regime feared that Ghazaleh might be called in as a witness. He was interviewed by United Nations investigators back in 2005, and as one of those present described Ghazaleh then, “He looked guilty as hell.”
Imagine if Ghazaleh had been summoned again. By refusing to comply the Syrian government would have been viewed as hiding something. Had he gone, there was a risk he would be detained, and given Ghazaleh’s anxieties that he could become the fall guy for Hariri’s murder, he might have spilled the beans. Better to get rid of that problem now to avoid headaches in the future.
The prosecutor of the special tribunal can alter his indictment at any stage, and one thing the harried Assad regime does not need today is to find itself accused by an international court of assassinating Hariri. Ironically, this may have more bearing on the regime than the carnage for which it has been responsible at home, because the trial, made possible thanks to a U.N. decision, can alter the behavior of states. Russia would be especially embarrassed by having to defend Assad and his acolytes against an institution that it was instrumental in creating.
Ghazaleh’s death helped propagate the image of a regime that is devouring its own. Most people assume Assad has become a puppet in the hands of Iran. In light of this what hope is there for the inheritors of Hafez Assad? Every rule the late Syrian leader imposed to preserve Alawite domination has been broken by his inept sons, assisted by the vast criminal enterprise of an inhumane intelligence apparatus.
Only fear of what might come after Assad has made countries reluctant to help accelerate the Syrian president’s exit. To quote the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, who was speaking last month to the Council on Foreign Relations, “The last thing we want to do is to allow [Islamic extremists] to march into Damascus.” That attitude has long prevailed in Washington, but only now are the Americans realizing that their hesitancy to see Assad pushed out in 2011 only created conditions that made a worse outcome probable.
That is worrisome, particularly for Syria’s minorities. As far back as 2011 Syria’s Christians were warned that wagering on Assad would only bring disaster. Even Lebanon’s Christians, represented by that great moral paragon, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, endorsed Assad on his foreign visits. We now have someone else to thank, then, at a moment when the Christian presence in the Middle East is under existential threat.
Assad may hold out for a time. But he has nothing on which to rebuild his authority. His community is in disarray; his army and intelligence services are as well. Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are filling the void, but with increasingly limited effectiveness and no hope of amelioration. Bashar Assad’s regime is on life support. Someone needs to pull the plug, preferably Assad’s friends, while a negotiated transition in Syria is still vaguely possible.
**Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR. He tweets @BeirutCalling.

US Senate amends Iran nuclear agreement oversight bill with passage in mind
By MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/04/29/2015
WASHINGTON -- US Senate leadership is carefully choosing amendments to a bill that would grant Congress oversight powers over a comprehensive nuclear accord with Iran.
Authors of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 are rejecting amendments strongly opposed by the Obama administration, in an effort to maintain broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for its passage.
The agreement, which currently has the support of over two-thirds of lawmakers, would require the president to submit a deal promptly to Congress in its entirety. The legislature would then have mere weeks to review the deal, and then may choose to vote to approve or disapprove of its participation in the lifting of sanctions.
More broadly, the bill provides Congress with an oversight structure as the deal is implemented, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), the bill's author, argues.
He has proposed an amendment in recent days that would require the administration submit both the English and Iranian-drafted Farsi versions of the agreement, which ostensibly will cap, restrict, monitor and partially roll back Tehran's nuclear program for a finite period.
The White House countered, saying that US President Barack Obama would veto any legislation with amendments that would undercut a deal reached between his administration and US lawmakers over Congress' role amid the Iranian nuclear talks.
Obama also would not back any bill that would interfere with the negotiations between Iran, the US and other world powers over its nuclear program, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
After a political framework was announced in Lausanne on April 2, the White House and Iran's foreign ministry released incongruent fact sheets on its contents. Corker seeks to avoid similar confusion with a final agreement, he says.
But on Tuesday, the Senate rejected an effort to require the agreement with Iran to be considered a treaty, which would have forced any deal to be approved by two-thirds of the Senate's 100 members before it could take effect.
Currently, the provision which allows for a vote of disapproval also allows the chamber to forego a vote. But the US Constitution requires the consent of Congress for the ratification of treaties.
The Obama administration opposes calling the emerging deal a treaty, and instead calls it a multilateral agreement or, more formally, a comprehensive joint plan of action.
The Senate voted 57-39 to reject the treaty measure, which would have required the support of 60 senators to pass.
Nevertheless, its support from 39 Republicans showed that there could be intense debate in the coming days as the Senate agrees on a final version of the legislation.
Reuters contributed to this report.