February 03/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Divorce, Oath,  Eye For Eye, Love For Enemies
Matthew 05/30-48: "It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."..

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 02-03/15
Nasrallah’s fiery speech casts gloom over dialogue/Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/February03/15
The Free Syrian Army: 4,000 or 60,000?/Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/February 02/15
The Greatest Threat in Syria Comes from Iran/by Efraim Inbar/Israel Hayom/February 02/15

Lebanese Related News published on February 02-03/15
Islamist State plots terror attacks inside Tehran. Hizballah high-up killed in Damascus bus blast
Berri Says Nasrallah Speech Has No Impact on Dialogue with Mustaqbal, Mashnouq Disagrees
Breakthrough Looms in Casino du Liban Crisis
Saudi Arabia Prohibits Import of Spoiled Thyme from Dahieh Producer
Truckers Go on Open-Ended Strike over 4th Basin at Beirut Port
Kataeb Urges Sparing Lebanon Region Conflicts, Says Facing Israel a 'Collective Arab Responsibility'
Daryan Condemns Damascus Bombing, Hopes Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Will Resolve Pending Disputes
Foreign Ministry Condemns Damascus Bombing, March 14 Calls for Protecting Lebanon
EU Official Calls for Deeper Cooperation with Lebanon to Fight Terrorism
Lieberman Says Third Lebanon War is Inevitable
Netanyahu Criticizes UNIFIL after Peacekeeper's Death

Feelings of grief prevail in funeral for Damascus six
Lebanese Cabinet’s survival not threatened by incidents
Activists battle for Beirut’s heritage
New engagement rules are challenge for government
UNIFIL chief briefs Salam on returning stability
Khalil wants investigation into LibanPost corruption
Derian goes to Cairo on official visit for talks
Interior Ministry stance on civil marriage angers
18-year-old killed in Lebanon ski accident
Beirut to be free of political posters: Berri
South Lebanon governorate to be smoke-free
Lebanon issues food safety guidelines

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 02-03/15
Jordan to send ambassador back to Israel after tensions eased
Netanyahu is the problem, not his wife
IDF soldier goes solo into Hamas terror tunnel
The genie in Netanyahu's bottle
IDF soldier goes solo into Hamas terror tunnel
New Saudi cabinet sworn in
Iraqi PM Abadi orders arms-free zone in Baghdad

Kurds push back ISIS around Ain al-Arab

Yemen’s Houthi rebels demand their militia join army, police
New Yemen Drone Strike Kills Four Qaida Suspects
The U.S. heroin boom is forcing Mexican opium farmers to plant more
Egypt sets new Mursi espionage trial on Feb
Greste Calls Release 'Step forward', Urges Egypt to Free Colleagues
Three women killed’ in clashes in Egypt’s Sinai
Obama proposes $51 billion in war funds
Intolerance, extremism on the rise across EU: official
Syria air strikes kill at 32 people
Jordan says its ambassador will return to Israel after spat
French economy minister says received death threats over reforms
ISIS in Syria withdrawing from Kobane outskirts
Libya Parliament Drops Law Barring Gadhafi-Era Officials

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Islamist State plots terror attacks inside Tehran. Hizballah high-up killed in Damascus bus blast
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 2, 2015
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has launched a new terror offensive against Iranians, their followers and other Shiites. It was kicked off Sunday, Feb. 2 with an attack on a Damascus bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims to shrines in Syria. Nine people were killed and at least 20 injured. ISIS has set its sights next on the Muslim Shiite heartland, Iran and its cities – especially the capital Tehran. The Damascus bus attack is ascribed by some sources to a Saudi suicide bomber by the name of Abu al-Ezz al-Ansari. The claim that the Syrian rebel Jabhat al-Nusra was the perpetrator was false, say debkafile’s intelligence and counter-terrorism sources. This group does not go in for Saudi recruits and certainly not suicide bombers of that ilk. ISIS fingered Nusra to conceal its own responsibility for the attack and its real target. Our sources reveal that the Islamic State attacked the Shiite pilgrims in order to get at a high-ranking officer of Hizballah’s armed wing, who was on the bus. Hizballah headquarters in Beirut has imposed deep hush on his death and identity. But because they could not pretend the bus explosion did not happen, they pinned it Monday on “takfir [infidel] groups” which they say collaborate with Israel. This attack revealed most significantly that Hizballah has begun covering the tracks in Syria of its top Hizballah men by inserting them among Shiite pilgrims traveling by bus from Lebanon to Damascus. They are camouflaging the movements of their top men in Syria by an elaborate security net, ever since an Israeli air strike on Jan. 18, killed around nine Hizballah and Iranian officers, including the Iranian general, Ali Allah Dadi. Still, ISIS agents were able to find the bus and blow it up, indicating deep hostile penetration of the Iranian and HIzballah forces assigned to Syria to fight for Bashar Assad. Conscious of the Islamic State’s next plans, the Iranian Al Qods Brigades commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, paid an unscheduled visit to Beirut last Thursday, Jan. 29, for urgent talks with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and briefings for the organization’s military council members. Their most pressing concern was the detailed ISIS program, which is ready to go, for a broad new campaign of terror against Iranian and pro-Iranian targets in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the Iranian homeland.

Lebanese Cabinet’s survival not threatened by incidents
Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star/Feb. 03, 2015
BEIRUT: The Cabinet’ survival will not be affected by recent security developments in the country, ministerial sources from various political factions said, as Prime Minister Tammam Salam prepares to celebrate his government’s first anniversary.
The sources said that Salam, who will have cake with ministers later this week to mark the occasion, was able to contain the repercussions of Israel’s strike on the Hezbollah convoy in the Syrian town of Qunaitra on Jan. 18 and the party’s response in Lebanon’s occupied Shebaa Farms 10 days later. The strike killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general. The sources said that Salam managed to protect the government from divisive reactions to Hezbollah’s military operation in the Shebaa Farms which killed two Israeli soldiers.
Two days after Hezbollah’s retaliation, the party’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said in a speech that the Qunaitra attack had shattered the rules of engagement with the Jewish state.
This prompted a fierce reaction from March 14 officials, particularly former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who said that Nasrallah’s remarks were “unilateral and hasty and eliminated the will of the Lebanese people who are committed to [U.N] Resolution 1701,” which ended the summer 2006 war with Israel. The sources said that these fierce reactions did not have a negative impact on Salam’s national unity Cabinet. Future Movement leader former premier Saad Hariri did not comment on Nasrallah’s latest address, as he has on previous speeches.
As for other divisive topics, such as the firing of Casino du Liban employees, the filling of the port Basin 4 or raising the retirement age of officers, Salam is confident that the government will come up with a solution for each issue despite the apparent difficulties.
The sources said that the sectarian dimension that underscores the disputes over Casino du Liban and the fourth basin did not signal the imminent formation of an alliance between rival Lebanese Christian groups.
If this happened it could alter the Cabinet balance and even undermine the government. Rival Christian parties, including the Lebanese Forces and the Marada Movement, back truckers at the Port of Beirut who have launched an open-ended strike to protest the controversial filling of Basin 4. Opposing Christian groups have also condemned the decision to lay off 191 employees at Casino du Liban who were said to be unproductive and causing the casino to lose revenue.
The sources said that the stances of Christian political parties over these matters were driven by narrow interests. They added that the protests and the strikes by truckers and Casino du Liban employees could be easily addressed, particularly because agreement exists over the two issues. Rival Christian parties have not yet forged an alliance mirroring that which brought major Christian political parties together at the outset of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War. The sources ruled out the possibility of such an alliance soon, saying that the outcome of dialogue between the Free Patriotic Movement and the LF did not indicate this would happen. The sources said that the LF and the FPM have so far agreed on topics which they cannot decide on alone, such as the need to draft an election law providing fair representation for Christians and to boost the powers of the president.As for an agreement on the country’s new president, which Christian parties have a large say in, the sources said that the issue was left for the meeting between FPM leader Michel Aoun and head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea which is expected to happen on Mar Maroun Day, next Monday.

Nasrallah's New engagement rules pose challenge for the Lebanese government
Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star/Feb. 03, 2015
By shattering the rules of engagement with Israel and imposing a new political and security equation, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has presented the Lebanese government with a tough challenge regarding its commitment to U.N. resolutions, political sources said.
The government will have to decide between its declared commitment to U.N. Resolution 1701 and the disassociation policy regarding the conflict in Syria, as well as the obligations of the Baabda Declaration on the one hand, and allowing Hezbollah to monopolize the decision of war and peace on the other, the sources said. Resolution 1701 ended the 34-day devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
The Baabda Declaration, endorsed by rival Lebanese leaders during a National Dialogue session chaired by then-President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace in June 2012, called for distancing Lebanon from regional and international conflicts, particularly the conflict in Syria.
Officials from the Future Movement and their March 14 allies have slammed Nasrallah’s speech last week in which he announced that the rules of engagement between Hezbollah and Israel had ended. In his speech, which came two days after Hezbollah fighters ambushed an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa Farms, killing two soldiers in retaliation for the Israeli airstrike that killed six party fighters and a top Iranian general in Syria’s Golan Heights on Jan. 18, Nasrallah warned that his group would respond to any Israeli attack at any time and in any place. Ministerial sources in the March 14 coalition said the majority of Lebanese have become concerned about the situation in their country in light of the defiance declared by Hezbollah leaders and Iranian political and military officials.
The March 14 parties are currently reassessing the latest developments before taking a firm stance on three fronts, the sources said.
First, in their assessment of the period from Feb. 14 – the anniversary of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – to Mar. 14 – the anniversary of the Independence Uprising – the March 14 parties will come up with recommendations affirming the coalition’s continued struggle to consolidate independence, sovereignty, freedom, democracy and a comprehensive national reconciliation, the sources said. Second, March 14 ministers are expected to ask their March 8 and Hezbollah counterparts in the government questions dealing with the exclusivity of the Lebanese state in declaring war, despite the knowledge that the government was formed as a result of an American-Saudi-Iranian consensus and the stance of these three countries so far is not to topple it, according to the sources.
Third, the Future Movement delegation will raise during the fifth round of dialogue with Hezbollah officials Tuesday the issue of unruly gunmen who fired celebratory gunfire in parts of Beirut and the southern suburbs before and after Nasrallah delivered his speech and the consequences of Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria, as well as other issues, such as the Hezbollah-linked Resistance Brigades. According to the same sources, Hezbollah’s new military equation calls on the March 14 parties to adopt a new practical approach because the most serious part in Nasrallah’s speech was that he has shattered all rules of engagement with Israel, unilaterally taken the decision to go to war with Israel and spelled out new enemies – the jihadi groups – while retaining the right to respond to them.
The sources said the government, with good intentions, has declared that Hezbollah’s retaliatory attack in the Shebaa Farms did not violate Resolution 1701 and did not cross the Blue Line, while it, along with the international community know it was a breach.
Therefore, after Hezbollah violated the international guarantee through the party’s “Communique No. 1” on the Shebaa attack, the government is left with two choices: either to take a different stance or publicly call on the international community to abolish this resolution and replace it with Hezbollah’s guarantee, the sources said. While waiting to see how internal political parties would react to the consequences entailed by the change in the rules of engagement between Hezbollah and Israel, the sources pointed out that there is about one month before the Security Council issues its regular report on the implementation of Resolution 1701. If the reports says that the Lebanese government had provided a political cover for the Shebaa operation, it would then face a predicament, as it would be impossible for it to ask the international community for military aid for the Army and security forces and assistance to Syrian refugees, while it is shelteringa Lebanese party bent on violating one of the resolutions of this community, the sources said.

Nasrallah’s fiery speech casts gloom over dialogue
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
Feb. 03, 2015
BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s fiery speech on new rules of engagement with Israel is likely to cast a pall of gloom over a fresh round of talks between the Future Movement and the resistance party set for Tuesday, Future officials said Monday. Meanwhile, France envoy Jean-Francois Girault arrived in Beirut as part of a French initiative aimed at breaking the 8-month-old presidential deadlock. “Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech will not help the dialogue,” Future MP Ammar Houri told The Daily Star. “Instead of easing tensions in the country, Nasrallah opted to take Lebanon to the regional arena, that is, Iran, by imposing new rules of engagement with Israel.” In addition to Nasrallah’s speech, Houri said the issue of celebratory gunfire, that “terrorized” the people in Beirut and its southern suburbs, fired by Hezbollah supporters before, during and after Friday’s speech, would definitely be brought up for discussion by the Future delegation. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, one of three Future officials representing the movement in the dialogue with Hezbollah, said Tuesday’s meeting, the fifth round of talks between the two rival and influential parties, would be difficult following Nasrallah’s speech. “The Future delegation will frankly express its opinion in this speech. But what matters is that dialogue will continue despite its difficulty,” Machnouk said in remarks published by As-Safir newspaper Monday. Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, head of the parliamentary Future bloc, and a number of Future and March 14 politicians have slammed Nasrallah’s defiant speech in which he announced that his group from now on would not recognize the rules of engagement with Israel, raising fears over the fate of U.N. Resolution 1701 that ended the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006.
In his speech, which came two days after Hezbollah fighters ambushed an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa Farms, killing two soldiers in retaliation for the Israeli airstrike that killed six party fighters and a top Iranian general in Syria’s Golan Heights on Jan. 18, Nasrallah warned that his group would respond to any Israeli attack at any time and in any place. However, Speaker Nabih Berri, who has been hosting the Future-Hezbollah talks at his Ain al-Tineh residence since they began Dec. 27, said the dialogue would not be affected by the diatribe against Nasrallah’s speech. During their session last week, the Future Movement and Hezbollah agreed to take “practical steps” aimed at bolstering stability. These included the removal of political slogans, portraits, signage and banners for Hezbollah, the Future Movement and Berri’s Amal Movement from the streets of Beirut, as a means to defuse sectarian and political tensions fueled by the war in Syria.
Machnouk chaired a security meeting at his office Monday devoted to discussing the elimination of political slogans along the coastal highway from the southern city of Sidon to Tripoli in the north starting Thursday, the National News Agency reported. It said Machnouk issued instructions to security chiefs and governors on the need to remove all political and religious slogans, in addition to illegal billboards, along the road in a move heralding the beginning of a campaign to eliminate slogans, banners and pictures from all areas.
According to March 8 sources, Tuesday’s session will pursue discussions on defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions – the main item on the dialogue agenda, which also includes finding a mechanism to allow the election of a president, boosting efforts to combat terrorism, promoting a new electoral law and energizing stagnant state institutions.The dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement, whose strained ties have heightened sectarian and political tensions, and sometimes put the country on edge, has won support from rival politicians, as well as from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the U.S. and the European Union.
Meanwhile, Girault did not speak to reporters upon his arrival to Beirut Monday night. His visit is part of a French initiative aimed at ending the political impasse that has left Lebanon without a president for over eight months.
This is Girault’s second visit to Lebanon in less than two months as part of a regional tour. He had also visited Saudi Arabia and Iran, two regional powers that exert great influence in Lebanon, and the Vatican, for talks on the presidential deadlock.
It was not immediately known whether Girault, head of the French Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department, was carrying new proposals to end the vacuum in the country’s top Christian post.
Asked if Girault’s visit would bring anything new concerning the presidential election, Houri told Ash-Asharq radio station: “We will again listen to what he will say. But it is no secret that the presidential issue has been confiscated by Iran at the hands of Hezbollah.”
Rival Lebanese leaders have repeatedly said that a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement is essential to facilitate the election of a president.

Truckers Go on Open-Ended Strike over 4th Basin at Beirut Port
Naharnet/The truckers syndicate at Beirut Port on Monday closed indefinitely the entrance to the facility pending a solution by the government to the controversial project to fill the port’s fourth basin. The state-run National News Agency reported that the protesters held an open-ended strike, pending the referral of the file to the cabinet for discussion. NNA said the entry and exit of goods at Beirut Port came to a halt during the protest. Naim Sawaya, the head of the truckers syndicate, told reporters that filling the fourth basin is “illegal.”
Nassif Saleh, a port agent, called for the formation of a fifth basin to create job opportunities, rather than leaving many workers jobless. The filling of the fourth basin would end the role of Beirut Port and harms the economy, he told journalists. The project will give more space to store containers. But there are fears that transforming the Port of Beirut into a transshipment hub would direct large vessels to the Port of Tripoli because the fourth basin will no longer be able to accept big cargo ships. This will allegedly cause hundreds of Beirut Port employees, mostly truckers, to lose their jobs. The cabinet was set to discuss the issue last week, but it was overshadowed by the clashes between the Jewish State and Hizbullah after the party attacked an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa Farms area.
The Maronite Patriarchate and Christian parties, mainly the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, Marada and Kataeb, have backed the truckers.

Berri Says Nasrallah Speech Has No Impact on Dialogue with Mustaqbal, Mashnouq Disagrees
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri stressed that the criticism of Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech would not have repercussions on the fifth round of talks between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal despite contrary claims by Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq.
Local dailies quoted Berri as saying that “negative remarks against Nasrallah's speech won't impact the dialogue,” whose fifth round is set to take place in Ain el-Tineh on Tuesday. Several March 14 officials, including al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora, have lashed out at Nasrallah after a speech he made on Friday. Saniora on Saturday described the Hizbullah secretary-general's remarks as “hasty and unilateral.” Nasrallah delivered his speech during a ceremony to honor six Hizbullah fighters killed in the Jan. 18 Israeli airstrike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, in which he announced that the rules of engagement between the resistance and Israel had ended. “The dialogue is ongoing and starting this week the Lebanese will witness Beirut clear of all posters and banners for the Amal Movement, Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal,” Berri reportedly told his visitors. Despite the optimism expressed by Berri, who heads Amal, al-Mashnouq expected the fifth round of talks between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal to be “difficult” after Nasrallah's speech.
The Mustaqbal officials will express their viewpoint during the dialogue session, al-Mashnouq told As Safir daily published on Monday. But he stressed that the talks “will continue despite the difficulty.” The interior minister, who is an al-Mustaqbal official, confirmed that the campaign to remove party slogans and banners will start this week. It will include the capital Beirut, the southern city of Sidon, the northern city of Tripoli, the coastal road and other areas, he said. Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal officials have been holding talks since December to defuse sectarian tension. Among the decisions that they have reached is to remove party posters and banners.

Breakthrough Looms in Casino du Liban Crisis
Naharnet/Signs of a breakthrough in Casino du Liban's crisis emerged on Monday evening, as a panel tasked with studying the files of 191 sacked employees reached a preliminary solution involving the reversal of some dismissal letters and hefty compensations. The panel formed by the casino's board of directors convened at the headquarters of the Intra Investment Company, which owns 52% of the casino's shares. The conferees decided to “reevaluate the files of the employees who were sacked from the casino one by one starting tomorrow and to grant generous compensations to anyone sacked over the factors of age or experience,” state-run National News Agency reported. “The sacked casino employees who have health problems will be referred to a medical panel that will evaluate their files,” OTV reported.
Dismissed employees suffering from chronic diseases will retain their posts at the casino and all their rights will be preserved, NNA said. “The atmosphere is positive and the two syndicates will convene to take the final decision on the proposals,” Fadi Chehwan, head of the union of Casino du Liban employees, told LBCI television. For his part Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi told LBCI that the preliminary agreement was reached following a series of contacts. “The casino might be reopened tonight or tomorrow, because the list of the sacked employees will be reconsidered and the unjust decisions against productive employees will be reversed,” Qazzi said. He noted that further meetings will be held to “put the solution on the track of implementation.” “The tasked committee will tomorrow start studying the files one by one and the two parties (employees and administration) will later meet to reach a solution and end the injustice,” Qazzi added. The employees syndicate had earlier met with Vicar General of the Maronite Patriarchate, Archbisop Boulos Sayah, who has been tasked my Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to follow up on the issue. A syndicate delegation also met with Speaker Nabih Berri in the evening to thank him for “the role he has played to resolve the crisis.”
Despite the looming breakthrough, the sacked employees pressed on with their open-ended sit-in outside the casino. The crisis erupted on Tuesday, when the board of directors decided to dismiss 191 contract employees in a step it described as a “drastic salvation” move, which prompted the employees to block the casino's gates to condemn what they described as a “social massacre.” Several political parties intervened throughout last week to reverse the decision which was reportedly pushed forward by Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, amid efforts by Berri and al-Rahi to distinguish between productive and unproductive employees. Several media reports have mentioned bribes and employees receiving salaries without reporting to work. The labor minister meanwhile said that the main reason behind the dismissal step was the decline in the casino's revenues because the state “was unable to shut down gambling centers in other regions.”

Saudi Arabia Prohibits Import of Spoiled Thyme from Dahieh Producer
Naharnet /Saudi Arabia prohibited the import of a large quantity of thyme from a producer located in Beirut's southern suburbs of Dahieh because the product did not meet food safety standards, reported the National News Agency on Monday. It said that inspectors from the Health and Economy Ministries inspected Adonis Spices factory in al-Rihab area in Dahieh. The officials confiscated all the products at the facility, taking new samples for testing. The producer had previously attempted to sell 24 tons of thyme to Saudi Arabia, but the kingdom had rejected it, said NNA. The product was returned to Lebanon and sold in the local market. The Health Ministry inquired about the development, especially since the thyme had been subject to two tests and both times the product was found to have violated food safety standards. Earlier on Monday, health inspectors in the southern city of Tyre shut a grain warehouse in Center Bitar, which is owned by Hilal Bitar. They discovered around 15 tons of ground beans that were infested with weevils. Samples of the grains were taken for testing in order for a final decision in the case to be taken. Health Minister Wael Abou Faour had launched in October a food safety campaign aimed at cracking down on a number of violating institutions. His efforts have led to the closure of several restaurants, slaughterhouses, and warehouses.

Kataeb Urges Sparing Lebanon Region Conflicts, Says Facing Israel a 'Collective Arab Responsibility'
Naharnet /The Kataeb Party on Monday called for ending all acts that “entangle Lebanon” in battles that “exceed its capacity,” describing it as “the weakest link” in the strife-torn region. In a statement issued after the weekly meeting of its political bureau, the party expressed “grave concern over the course of events in which Lebanon has been implicated due to the ongoing war in Syria and its local repercussions.” Kataeb's remarks come in the wake of Israel's assassination of six Hizbullah fighters, including prominent militants, and an Iranian general in a Jan. 18 air raid in Syria's Quneitra. Hizbullah retaliated through killing two Israeli troops and wounding seven in a missile attack on the occupied Shebaa Farms, after which group leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that his party no longer recognizes any "rules of engagement" in the conflict with Israel. "National responsibility requires halting all acts that might entangle Lebanon in foreign battles and crises that exceed its capacity, threaten its security and stability, and subject it to existential dangers," Kataeb added. It underlined that "addressing and resolving the major Arab crises that are moving from one country to another, as well as confronting Israel's occupation of some Arab territories, especially in Palestine, is a collective Arab responsibility.” The party also condemned as a “cowardly act” the bombing that targeted a Lebanese bus in Damascus and left several pilgrims dead and wounded. “The same terrorism is striking in Arsal's outskirts, Sinai's el-Arish, Paris, as well as through the execution of the Japanese journalist in cold blood,” Kataeb noted. Separately, the party hoped the ongoing separate talks between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal Movement and between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement will lead to results regarding the “crucial” issues of “immunizing national sovereignty” and “electing a president without any delay

Daryan Condemns Damascus Bombing, Hopes Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Will Resolve Pending Disputes
Naharnet /Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan condemned on Monday the bus bombing that targeted Lebanese pilgrims in the Syrian capital Damascus, saying it is an attack that goes against moral, religious, humanitarian, and social values.He said: “Terrorist and criminal acts against civilians contradict the true principles of Islam.”He made his remarks from Rafik Hariri International Airport ahead of his departure to Egypt on an official visit where he is scheduled to meet with a number of political and spiritual officials. Daryan added: “We constantly call and strive for Muslim unity, but we want these demands to be materialized in actions, not just words.”Nine people were killed and at least 20 injured in Sunday's Damascus bombing. The pilgrims were traveling from the shrine of Sayyida Roqaya in central Damascus to the southern shrine of Sayyida Zeinab when the bomb detonated. The bus belonged to a Shiite pilgrim tour company and had left Beirut early Sunday morning.  Commenting on the dialogue between the Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah, Daryan said: “We have previously announced our support and encouragement to such endeavors and hope that they will positively affect the security situation in Lebanon and ease sectarian tensions.”“We hope that the gatherers would speed up the results of their dialogue in order to pave the way for deeper and more comprehensive talks that would resolve pending political affairs, especially the presidential elections,” he added. On Hizbullah's attack against an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa Farms on Wednesday, he said: “Lebanon's security is above all else.” “We believe that Israel is an enemy state and we reject its assaults against Lebanon,” he continued “Violations and attacks should be tackled through diplomatic channels and before the international community,” explained the mufti. “We call on all political factions to take a united stand on these violations,” urged Daryan, Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded when Hizbullah fired a salvo of anti-tank missiles at the Israeli military convoy. The attack prompted Israel to fire a number of retaliatory shells against targets in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah said the Shebaa operation was in response to a January 18 Israeli air raid on a party convoy in Syria's Quneitra which killed six Hizbullah fighters, including prominent members, and a top Iranian general. The Foreign Ministry on Friday submitted a complaint against Israel to the U.N. Security Council over its violation of Resolution 1701 through the retaliatory shelling.

Foreign Ministry Condemns Damascus Bombing, March 14 Calls for Protecting Lebanon
Naharnet/The foreign ministry denounced on Monday the deadly terrorist attack that targeted Lebanese pilgrims in the Syrian capital a day earlier. In a statement, the ministry condemned the bombing that left nine people dead and at least 20 injured as the visitors traveled in a bus in Damascus. It sent its condolences to their families and hoped for the speedy recovery of the injured. The pilgrims were traveling from the shrine of Sayyida Roqaya in central Damascus to the southern shrine of Sayyida Zeinab when the bomb detonated. The bus belonged to a Shiite pilgrim tour company and had left Beirut early Sunday morning. The statement added that Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil made several phone calls to offer condolences and condemn the “cowardly act.”Also Monday, the March 14 general-secretariat sent its condolences to the families of the victims. “Our solidarity with our people confirms once again the importance of exerting efforts to protect Lebanon from the repercussions of the events in the region,” it said in a statement. The regional turmoil is tilting towards sectarian war and it is Hizbullah's responsibility to play a bigger role in thwarting such a phenomenon, it added. Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat later condemned the “terrorist bus blast”. “We reject any bombing against innocent civilians and offer our condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” he added in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website. Hizbullah has sent its fighters to Syria to help troops loyal to President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him.

EU Official Calls for Deeper Cooperation with Lebanon to Fight Terrorism
Naharnet /The European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management has said that terrorism is a common enemy with Lebanon, adding that the presence of European troops in southern Lebanon would be discussed during a meeting in Brussels. “We have a common enemy which is terrorism,” Christos Stylianides told An Nahar daily in an interview published on Monday. “It is beneficial to have deeper cooperation in that regard,” he said.  “Terrorist attacks are not against a certain religion or civilization. We have a common enemy and people are assaulting our joint legacy,” he added. Stylianides revealed that the role of European peacekeepers in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon would be the subject of discussion at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. He made the revelation after he was asked whether he had fears on the European military presence in southern Lebanon. A Spanish peacekeeper was killed on Wednesday in the deadliest escalation on the disputed frontier since the 2006 war between Hizbullah and Israel. The violence erupted when Hizbullah fighters attacked an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms area, killing two soldiers and wounding seven. Israel responded with shelling.  Stylianides announced on Saturday that the EU is providing 37 million euros ($42 million) to help Lebanon cope with the Syrian refugees. He told reporters in the eastern Bekaa Valley during a visit that "Lebanon is not alone. The European Union stands by the government and the people of Lebanon." The U.N. refugees agency has said there are at least 1,150,000 registered Syrian refugees, a quarter the size of Lebanon's own population of 4.5 million. In his interview with An Nahar, Stylianides said that the EU has been facing the most demanding humanitarian crisis since World War II as a result of 12 million refugees. “Those 12 million people are the victim of misery and are very close to the European border,” he said.

Lieberman Says Third Lebanon War is Inevitable
Naharnet /Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that a third war with Lebanon has become inevitable, stressing that Hizbullah's latest attack on the Jewish State has changed the rules of the game. "A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable," Lieberman told Ynet, the website of the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, on Sunday. "There's no doubt the rules of the game have been changed, what Hizbullah forced upon us. We don't respond, but rather decide to contain this incident. I think that's completely unreasonable,” he said. “Hizbullah is bolder, more determined, more provocative. This is a precedent that everyone's following, they're following our response or lack thereof," he added. Israel and Hizbullah engaged last Wednesday in the deadliest clashes on the disputed frontier since the 2006 war between them. The violence erupted when Hizbullah fired a salvo of anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military convoy, killing two soldiers and wounding seven. Israel responded with shelling. A Spanish peacekeeper with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was killed in the exchange. Lieberman said after the attack that Israel should respond to the attack "in a very harsh and disproportionate manner.”

Jordan to send ambassador back to Israel after tensions eased
Ynetnews/Reuters/Published: 02.02.15,/ Israel News
Amman says it's sending envoy back after improvement in numbers of Muslim worshipers being allowed on the Temple Mount to pray at al-Aqsa. Jordan will return its ambassador to Israel, the government said on Monday, three months after withdrawing the envoy in protest at Israeli restrictions on access to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque. For the first time since making peace with its neighbour in 1994, Jordan announced in November it was pulling its envoy out of Israel following growing tensions over the sacred compound housing Al Aqsa mosque - the third holiest site in Islam. Netanyahu meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah and US Secretary of State Kerry amid rising tensions on Temple Mount (Photo: EPA) Government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said that since then, Israel had taken significant steps to ease the friction and was allowing many more Muslims to access the site, which is also the holiest place in Judaism. "We noticed in the last period a significant improvement in Haram al-Sharif with numbers of worshipers reaching unprecedented levels," Momani said. Haram al-Sharif, known in Judaism as Temple Mount, is where the mosque is located. Israel welcomed the move. "This is an important decision that reflects the shared interests of Israel and Jordan, chief among them being stability, security and peace," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement. Israel shut the Al Aqsa compound for one day last November after a far-right Israeli-American activist, who had spoken out against a ban on Jews praying at the ancient compound, was shot and seriously wounded in Jerusalem.
Jordanian officials said the mosque complex was swiftly reopened after the personal intervention of King Abdullah, whose custodianship of the holy site was recognized in the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. The compound, which also houses the Dome of the Rock, the gold-plated shrine from where the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ascended to heaven, is run by several hundred Jordanian government employees. Momani said the ambassador would be returning to Israel later on Monday, adding that the government hoped the relative calm around the holy site would continue. Jordan blamed Israel for the tensions, saying it had not moved to restrain Israeli far-right nationalists who sought to overturn the Jewish prayer ban. "The message was delivered and reached the Israelis and on this basis we have asked our ambassador to go back to his work in the embassy this evening," Momani said. Jordan is one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel. But this has never won much domestic favor, given Israel's continued presence in the neighboring West Bank.

The Greatest Threat in Syria Comes from Iran
by Efraim Inbar/Israel Hayom
February 1, 2015
Originally published under the title, "Why the Hezbollah clash matters."
As the Assad regime is losing its grip over the country, Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah‎, both active defenders of the regime, are gaining greater freedom of action and trying to change the status quo along Israel's northern border. Both are ideologically committed to the destruction of Israel and are trying to establish a new operations stage against Israel on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights -- something that Assad has resisted for years.
Hezbollah‎ seeks an additional arena from where it can harm Israel, as conducting operations against the Jewish state from Lebanon is problematic due to domestic political constraints (primarily fear of escalation and spillover effects on the Lebanese economy). Iran has a perennial interest in bleeding Israel. Creating a new threat from Syria serves this purpose. A new front in Syria will also to enhance its ability to deter an Israeli attack on its nuclear installations.
A new front in Syria will enhance Iran's ability to deter an Israeli attack on its nuclear installations.
The helicopter attack in Syria on senior commanders of Hezbollah‎ and Iran, just beyond the border with Israel, seems to signal that Jerusalem will not tolerate the opening of a new front. It is not clear that the Israeli-enunciated red line will be effective. Hezbollah‎'s response -- attacking an Israeli military convoy in the border area between the Golan Heights and Lebanon -- was measured, but indicated a tit for tat modus operandi.
Israel's counter-response was also measured, showing that the government was reluctant to escalate intentionally and preferred to contain the violence. This is also what transpires from Israel's behavior in its war against Hamas during the summer of 2014. While Israel's cautious response is laudable in many respects, the limited Israeli military response to Hezbollah‎'s attack does not enhance deterrence.
Deterrence can be enhanced, however, if Israel makes preparations for a large-scale operation against Hezbollah‎. This means building the necessary ground forces and training for Lebanese scenarios. Such a build-up process is not clearly evident so far, and Hezbollah‎ might deduce that its huge arsenal (over 100,000 missiles) creates an effective deterrent. As the number of attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon increased in recent months, the long period of quiet since 2006 seems more fragile. Perhaps Hezbollah‎ is less afraid to hit Israeli targets. Deterrence against highly motivated rivals such as Hezbollah‎ is always temporary and wears off with time. Israeli restraint is not conducive to restoration of deterrence. Therefore, the capability to destroy the Hezbollah‎ missile threat is needed for deterring this radical organization, but also in case Israel finds it necessary to address such a threat before it attacks the Iranian nuclear infrastructure.
Deterrence against highly motivated rivals is always temporary, wearing off with time. Israeli restraint is not conducive its restoration.
The attempts to change the security equation in the north call for a reassessment of Israel's policies toward Assad. If he is no longer able to resist the desire of Iran and Hezbollah‎ to perpetrate terrorist acts against Israel from beyond the Golan Heights, his usefulness for Israel becomes limited. It is true that the civil war in Syria, where bad guys fight bad guys, is a convenient strategic development. Moreover, Israel (among other actors) has very limited influence on the outcome of the bloody struggle, but the survival of the Assad regime should no longer be a factor in Israel's strategic calculations.
Actually, the fall of the Assad regime is nowadays an Israeli interest. The demise of this regime would be a terrible blow to its regional allies -- Iran and Hezbollah‎. Damascus, an old ally of Tehran, is the linchpin of the Shiite crescent. And Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Israel and the main source for regional instability. The fall of Assad would also weaken Hezbollah‎ considerably. It would reduce Hezbollah‎-Iranian influence in Lebanon and make the Hezbollah‎ military build-up a more complicated enterprise. A Hezbollah‎ without Iranian control of Damascus might spare Israel the need to intervene militarily in Lebanon in order to deal with the missile threat.
An Israeli predisposition to discard Assad is useful in Jerusalem's relations with Saudi Arabia, which loathes the Syrian regime.
If Assad falls, it is not clear what will happen in Syria, but it is certain that Sunni radical groups will be more influential and the struggle over controlling parts of the country will continue. Yet, substate groups are generally less of a security threat than states. Assad-led Syria still has a chemical weapons arsenal and there are reports that it is trying to revive its nuclear weapon program.
An Israeli predisposition to discard Assad is also useful in Jerusalem's relations with Saudi Arabia, which loathes the Assad regime and understands that its fall will curtail the growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. It is the Iranian threat that constitutes the strategic glue between the two states.
Of course, the Obama administration does not grasp the Iranian threat and continues its ill-advised attempts to reach an agreement with Iran, which allows Tehran to keep its option to build nuclear weapons. It tries to strengthen Shiite control of Baghdad, seems to cooperate with Assad against ISIS, which turned out to be a mere strategic distraction, and accepts the Shiite Houthis' takeover of Yemen. Therefore, the Syrian-Lebanese nexus could become another issue of divergence between Jerusalem and Washington. Consequently, the paralysis of Barack Obama's Middle East policy increasingly becomes an Israeli concern as well.
*Efraim Inbar is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a professor of political ‎studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a Shillman/Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.‎

The Free Syrian Army: 4,000 or 60,000?
Monday, 2 February 2015
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
The current puzzling question regarding the size of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) highlights just how vague the situation is and how easily propaganda is marketed on both sides. The Syrian regime is pushing the idea that the opposition is divided and has been wiped out, while the opposition says it is reorganizing 60,000 fighters who are members of the FSA. What is certain is that Western support the FSA is receiving has decreased. A Wall Street Journal report said American military support for the Syrian opposition had regressed, and that the U.S. only gave the equivalent of 16 bullets a month per fighter. The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday: “Since the first of the year, we have delivered approximately 2.7 million in nonlethal supplies and equipment to the moderate opposition, including water trucks, back hoes, generators, winterization gear, and more than 17,000 food baskets.” “Despite the restraints levied against it, the FSA is on the verge of consolidating its control of southern Syria”
Despite this scarcity, the FSA and the moderate Syrian opposition in general deserve appreciation for their steadfastness despite a lull in support, and despite the restraints placed against them (they are no longer able to move freely in northern Syria due to constant targeting by the extremist al-Nusra Front). Added to that, Turkey has also begun to restrain the activity of the FSA and its leaders, perhaps as a result of foreign pressures.
Consolidating control
Despite the restraints levied against it, the FSA is on the verge of consolidating its control of southern Syria - in Daraa and its surroundings - even though many of the fighters have not received salaries in months. Salim Idriss, minister of defense in the opposition government, said the opposition had begun to unite factions to establish a united army that will include 60,000 fighters. Idriss further hypothesized that the world will realize that its only option to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is to topple the Syrian regime and support the moderate opposition which represents all Syrian people of different religions, sects and tribes. Some American politicians and legislators agree with this opinion when it comes to the topic of confronting ISIS and the threats it poses to the world.
A member of the U.S. Senate Defense Affairs Committee said: “The American government must support the Free Syrian Army because it’s the only option. Despite the hesitation to support [the FSA], its leadership will be capable of altering the vision of regional countries in support of the Syrian people and [will also be capable] of altering the vision of suspicious Western countries if it really manages to reunite itself and if it really succeeds at uniting the ranks of, at least, its military leaderships [especially since] rival and competing political leaderships are not as significant during this difficult phase.”