March 13/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Curing Of The Two Blind Men
Matthew 09/27-35: "As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, ‘See that no one knows of this.’But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district. After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, ‘Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.’But the Pharisees said, ‘By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.’Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness."

Bible Quotation For Today/
Second Letter to the Corinthians 12/21/13/01-05/: Christ
is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you.
"I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practised. This is the third time I am coming to you. ‘Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses.’I warned those who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not be lenient since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test!"

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 12-13/15
From the Jerusalom Post: Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: What happens if you lose – is your career over?
FPI Bulletin: In the War on ISIS, Iran is Not a Reliable Partner/Tzvi Kahn/Foreign Policy/March 12/15
Netanyahu and his Likud are running out of time to survive the March 17 ballot/DEBKAfile/March 12/15
Iran and the Pro-Mullah Lobby’s Arguments/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/March 12/15
Jpost asks Netanyahu: What happens if you lose – is your career over/J.Post/March 12/15

Lebanese Related News published on March 12-13/15
Lebanese Cabinet OKs banking body appointments
Rival Lebanese camps blamed for political, sectarian rifts
March 14 announce manifesto 10 years on
Abu Faour sues pharmaceutical companies
ISF detains three for human trafficking
Police arrest man for brutally beating daughters
French minister to visit Lebanon for arms delivery
Machnouk: Egyptian embassy received threats from ISIS
3 Women Referred to Judiciary over Smuggling of Palestinians, Lebanese to Libya
Several Injured in Bsharri Landslide
Qahwaji to Jordan Sunday to Discuss Equipping Army
MP Suleiman Franjieh Says Won't Accept President Elected through Aoun-Geagea Deal
Health Ministry Puts End to Debate on Infant's Death in Zgharta Hospital
'Consultative' Bab al-Tabbaneh, Jabal Mohsen Meeting Calls for Tripoli Reconciliation
Israel Kicks Off Military Exercises along Lebanon's Border
Hizbullah Lauds Egypt's Appeal against Labeling Hamas as Terrorist, Calls for Dialogue
Kanaan to Meet SCC Tuesday ahead of Joint Parliamentary Committees Session on Wage Scale

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 12-13/15
Major nations hold talks on ending UN sanctions on Iran, officials say
Jumblatt urges Druze to back Joint Arab List
Khamenei calls Netanyahu 'Zionist clown'
Gaza exports first produce to Israel since 2007
Anbar Friendly fire incident under investigation
Exclusive: Livni says Zionist Union will stop diplomatic tsunami
Syria another Arab catastrophe
Iraq forces announce Phase 2 of Tikrit campaign
GOP protests talks on ending UN's Iran sanctions
Herzog and Livni take campaign to souk
Peres supports Herzog for prime minister
Strange timing of generals' attack on Netanyahu
Diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Sweden widens as Kingdom recalls ambassador
Yemen: Hadi meets escaped defense minister
Iraq vice-president calls for arming Mosul fighters
World failed in response to Syria, experts say

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Moderate Fatah to Israelis: “Collect your body parts and leave!”

Australian convert to Islam vowed “string of bombings across Melbourne”
AFDI free speech victory: Philadelphia must run ad against Islamic antisemitism
Turkey: Teacher tells girls they “deserve to be raped” for not wearing hijab
Malaysia: Muslims enraged over pic of girl with dog, demand she be punished
New, revised and improved at PJ Media: Robert Spencer’s Blogging the Qur’an
UK: Queen’s chaplain says there are Qur’an passages that “invite people to violence”
Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa hunting down convert from Islam who fled Egypt
Florida: Two Muslims to plead guilty to NYC mass casualty jihad plot
Iranian President: Diplomacy with U.S. is an active jihad

March 14 announce manifesto 10 years on
Mar. 13, 2015 /Wassim Mroueh| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The brutal assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005, has been described as an “earthquake” in Lebanese history, precipitating a number of dramatic developments in the country that have had lasting repercussions. One of its immediate effects materialized exactly four weeks later, when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from different sects and political groups flocked to Downtown Beirut to demand the truth behind the assassination and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. It was the founding gathering of the March 14 coalition. Despite its early achievements, manifested in the Syrian army’s swift withdrawal and majorities in the Parliament and Cabinet, the alliance has since witnessed a series of setbacks. Ten years after calling on Hezbollah to hand over its weapons to the Lebanese Army, the group now sits in the same government with representatives of the still-armed Shiite party. As it celebrates its 10th anniversary Saturday with a conference at BIEL, the group will announce a political manifesto and launch a National Council in an attempt to re-emphasize its multi-sectarian nature amid rising extremism regionally. “In order to return to the international spotlight, the March 14 coalition must go beyond local politics and re-emphasize the Lebanese experience [of coexistence],” said former MP Fares Soueid, general coordinator of the March 14 General Secretariat. “It is a unique experience, as there is no constitution in the world which organizes relations between Muslims, Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Druze and Alawites in one framework [like the Lebanese Constitution],” Soueid said, sitting in his Ashrafieh office, decorated with portraits of March 14 martyrs.
He explained that the Lebanese should present their model of coexistence as an example to the world for resolving crises of intolerance and sectarian violence, “hence the announcement of a political manifesto and the launch of the March 14 National Council.”Soueid said the manifesto would emphasize the unique Lebanese experience of coexistence, which he says has proven resilient to regional turmoil. Comprising approximately 300 party officials and independent March 14 figures, the National Council (NC) will be run by an openly elected body. “No posts will be allocated to specific sects; candidates of any sect may run for any post.” “It will be the senate of March 14 coalition, a framework which brings together leaders of opinion in Lebanon and from the diaspora to contribute to the drafting of March 14 policies.” Lacking any executive authority, the NC will be a consultative body and meet every two or three months to make recommendations.
“Most importantly, it will bring together all these groups, and present an image which matches that of the March 14 cause: [to create a space where] a multi-sectarian group [...] can discuss heated topics of national, Arab or international nature, from a [Lebanese] perspective.”
Soueid contends that over the past 10 years, Hezbollah has been able to make Lebanese politically identify along sectarian lines rather than with the state, a concept that March 14 has tried to abolish by promoting a strong state and pushing its multi-sectarian platform. He acknowledged that the bloc’s decision to join the same government as Hezbollah was aimed at “buying time and postponing a problem.”
“Maybe it reflects wisdom but it strays from the convictions of the March 14 coalition.”Attendees of Saturday’s conference will comprise the general assembly of the NC, from which a preparatory committee will be formed and tasked with laying down the body’s bylaws. But according to university professor Sami Nader, the NC won’t be able to make significant changes, as it will lack any decision-making power. “Is it sovereign or is it just cosmetics? [If] it is really only cosmetics, then it is better not to have it,” Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, a Beirut-based think-tank, said. “We don’t want it [to be] makeup or a fig leaf but a true sovereign institution,” he added. Nader said that while the March 14 coalition has argued that the NC would re-emphasize the multi-sectarian nature of their movement, its constituent parties are currently engaged in dialogues of a sectarian nature. “They say one thing and do the opposite. Two parties from the March 14 coalition are currently taking part in sectarian dialogues,” he added, referring to ongoing talks between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, as well as the Future Movement-Hezbollah dialogue.
Nader said that while the Future Movement maintains that its dialogue is aimed at defusing sectarian tensions, this should strictly be a national responsibility. The university professor said that March 14 should focus on regaining “the spirit of March 14: a popular, peaceful and inclusive movement, away from sectarianism.” Nader said that the NC experience could be successful if its goal was to engage with the political base of March 14, which he said is currently disappointed with the bloc.
“They should go and talk to them. They only visit north Lebanon during elections,” Nader said. “Let them fill this National Council with people from [remote] areas and give them power so that their political base can regain its decision-making powers.” Ziad Daherz, an official in the Future Movement Youth Department who took part in the founding March 14 demonstrations, said that it is the “spirit rather than the body” of March 14 that must be preserved.
He said that the circumstances that accompanied the birth of the coalition in 2005 and impacted its activity have changed, pointing to the Arab Spring – particularly the uprising in Syria – and the rise of new forms of extremism. “Lebanon is affected by these developments, particularly given that a Lebanese faction is taking part in Syria’s war,” Daher said, referring to Hezbollah. “We should not establish a National Council in order to recreate an exact image of the group as it was on March 14, 2005. It should come up with new solutions, which take into consideration the changes that have taken place since 2005.”
Daher stressed that the March 14 movement should seek to preserve the role of youth, which he described as a “main pillar” of the group. Ralph Akel, a political activist who also participated in the founding gathering, said the establishment of the NC was a positive step but that its success would be defined by politicians’ ability to listen to their constituents. “Implementation will show how effective it will be ... leaders must be receptive to the spirit of the political base, which supports independence and wants to develop the Lebanese system politically and economically.”Akel added that the coalition needs a strategy that focuses on both politics and socio-economic challenges. “We need a strategy which March 14 supporters can hold [politicians] accountable for implementing.”

Several Injured in Bsharri Landslide
Naharnet /At least two people were wounded on Thursday in a landslide triggered by heavy rain in the northern Bsharri district, the state-run National News Agency reported. NNA said the landslide in the town of Hasroun was caused by the collapse of a pond in the hilly town. The water invaded houses, swept cars into a valley and blocked the Bsharri-Hasroun main road, it said. According to NNA, among those injured was Charbel Touma, who suffered a broken shoulder and was taken the the Bsharri state hospital. The agency identified a second person wounded in the landslide as Loulou Bou Nassif. Red Cross rescuers, meanwhile, went into the valley to check if there were victims in the swept vehicles. Hasroun municipality also deployed its police and staff to take part in the rescue operations. Following the disaster, Bsharri MP Sethrida Geagea contacted Prime Minister Tammam Salam to follow up the case. Salam immediately tasked an advisor at the Higher Relief Council, Engineer Ali al-Hajj, to head to Hasroun and take the necessary measures.
The HRC helps Lebanese citizens and communities hit by natural and man-made disasters.

MP Suleiman Franjieh Says Won't Accept President Elected through Aoun-Geagea Deal
Naharnet/Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh announced Thursday that he will not endorse any president elected as a result of an agreement between Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, whose parties are currently engaged in unprecedented talks. “I have remarks over the way Aoun is managing the presidential battle because one must differentiate between openness towards rivals and seeking a role for rivals in securing his election as president,” said Franjieh in an interview on LBCI television. “We want the name of the next president to come from the General, not from his agreement with Dr. Geagea,” he added. Asked about his recent announcement that the country will not have a president anytime soon, Franjieh said: “I do not convey Syrian messages -- not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow -- and when I said that there won't be a president soon, it was the result of political analysis and nothing else.” As for accusations that his political camp is obstructing the elections, the Marada chief said “they're saying that Iran, Syria and Hizbullah do not want presidential elections because they want us to disagree with General Aoun for the sake of a president who is not even 50% close to us.”He was referring to candidates described as “centrists.” “We are not willing to engage in a dispute with our ally for the sake of electing a centrist figure as president,” Franjieh added. “If General Aoun endorses a centrist president amid a positive international atmosphere, such a president would be elected, but I won't vote for him,” he pointed out. Asked about his own chances to reach the presidential palace, Franjieh said: “I'm not asking anyone for the presidency and I believe that only the political equation could make my election possible.”Commenting on his recent contacts with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri, Franjieh said “they are not aimed at paving the way for anything and they're nothing but normal human communication.”“I'm March 8's candidate if General Aoun does not want the presidency for a reason or another,” he went on to say. A 20th parliamentary session to elect a new president was adjourned Wednesday to April 2 over lack of quorum. President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps and electoral rivalry between Aoun and Geagea have thwarted the polls.

Israel Kicks Off Military Exercises along Lebanon's Border
Naharnet/Israel began a week-long military drills along its northern border with Lebanon to test its readiness for any possible future war with Hizbullah. The military exercises according to a high-ranking Israeli army official are in light of “Hizbullah's realization that its most strategic weapon is to move battles into Israel,” the Israeli newspaper Maariv quoted him as saying. Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command Chief Major General Eyal Eisenberg announced on Wednesday the beginning of “emergency week” in north Israel, citing fears that Hizbullah could be able to infiltrate into the Jewish state's northern settlements and occupy them. Israeli officers expected in comments to Maariv “the country's local front to receive firm strikes by Hizbullah, taking into consideration that the Iron Dome defense system wouldn't be able to secure the area.” The officers also expected that Hizbullah fighters would infiltrate to Akka (Acre) and carry out a huge security operation in the city. Israel continuously warned Hizbullah, in particular after its strike in January which killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others in the occupied Shebaa Farms, of any hostile action, vowing to harshly retaliate. Hizbullah said the operation was in response to a deadly Israeli air raid that killed six of its fighters, including prominent members, in Syria's Quneitra.
Last week, an Israeli military vessel crossed 10 meters into Lebanon's waters, threatening a Lebanese fishing boat. The southern border area also witnessed recently intensified Israeli movement as troops and armored vehicles combed the border area. Israeli troops regularly cross the electronic border fence and sometimes enter Lebanese territory through the U.N.-demarcated Blue Line, which was drawn up following Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation. The fence runs parallel to the Blue Line.

Rival Lebanese camps blamed for political, sectarian rifts
Mar. 13, 2015
Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The emergence of the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance and the rival March 14 coalition in 2005 has since plunged Lebanon into political turmoil and sectarian divisions with far-reaching effects on the country’s volatile security and stability, analysts said Thursday.
Furthermore, the political and sectarian schism has been deepened by the repercussions of the upheavals currently roiling the region, particularly the negative fallout of the 4-year-old war in Syria on Lebanon’s security and stability, they said.
“The March 8 and March 14 alliances are responsible for the state of divisions and fragmentation in Lebanon. Since the two camps were born 10 years ago, the country has been in the throes of a sharp political crisis due to the rival parties’ regional commitment,” Abdallah Bou Habib, Lebanon’s former ambassador to the United States, told The Daily Star. “Because the two parties have regional friendships, commitments and allies, this has prevented them from giving priority to Lebanese interests,” said Bou Habib, also the director of the Issam Fares Center for Lebanon, a Beirut-based think tank. Bou Habib and other analysts said the fierce power struggle between the March 8 and March 14 blocs was largely at the root of the country’s many woes.
“The March 8 and March 14 political differences have led to the vacuum in the presidency and extension of Parliament’s mandate, brought Parliament legislation to paralysis and led to caretaker governments in some cases,” he said.
Sami Nader, a professor of economics and international relations at the Universite St. Joseph, praised the creation of the March 8 and March 14 parties as “a healthy sign” and “a pillar of democracy” in line with the country’s democratic system.
“But the main problem is the absence of any political platform between the two sides to serve the purpose of state building,” Nader told The Daily Star.
“Differences between the March 8 and March 14 parties have led to the failure of reaching a strong united state,” said Nader, also the director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, a Beirut-based think tank.
“The two sides are currently at odds over the country’s foreign and defense policies, a new electoral law, the need to elect a new president and the project to build a united state,” he added. “This in addition to the March 8 and March 14 disputes over the conflict in Syria, Hezbollah’s weapons, tackling the Syrian refugee crisis and the government security plan.”
Noting that each of the March 8 and March 14 blocs comprised politicians from various Muslim and Christian sects, “thus transcending in form the sectarian disease,” Nader said the two sides remained in disagreement over key issues.
“The creation of the March 14 coalition, an alliance by necessity, was in response to the March 8 movement and rejected the Syrian-Iranian hegemony over Lebanon,” Nader said. “The March 14 movement opposed Lebanon’s alignment with the Syrian-Iranian axis.”The 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri triggered a mass anti-Syria popular uprising in Downtown Beirut in March 2005, known as the Cedar Revolution. The March 14 alliance, a coalition of parties that takes its name from the uprising, is still struggling for Lebanon’s freedom, sovereignty and independence.
The coalition, led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, stands in opposition to the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance, which draws its name from a counter-demonstration held on March 8, 2005, in Downtown Beirut to thank Syria for its military and political role in Lebanon.
The Syrian army, under massive local and international pressure, was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in April 2005, ending nearly three decades of Syria’s domination of its smaller neighbor.
This month marked the 10th anniversary of the birth of the March 8 and March 14 alliances while Lebanon remains sharply divided politically between the rival pro- and anti-Syrian camps.
The inter-Lebanese split has been exacerbated by the negative impact of regional divisions, particularly the emergence of an Arab Gulf alliance led by Saudi Arabia against an Iranian-Syrian coalition.
Regional turmoil, particularly long-simmering rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which back opposing sides in Lebanon, has been blamed for the delay in the election of a new Lebanese president. Saudi Arabia backs the March 14 coalition while Iran supports the March 8 alliance. Also, the 10th anniversary of the March 8 and March 14 parties comes as the Lebanese Army is locked in an open battle against Syria-based jihadis threatening to destabilize Lebanon.
Mouna Fayyad, a writer and a psychology professor at the state-run Lebanese University, sounded pessimistic about putting an end to divisions in Lebanon while the region was on the boil.
“I don’t see a solution soon to current tensions and the state of fragmentation in Lebanon as long as the region remains in wars and turmoil and as long as Lebanon remains a card in the hands of others,” Fayyad told The Daily Star.
In order for Lebanon to emerge from the current intense political alignment between the March 8 and March 14 blocs, Fayyad said, “this requires the election of a new president and the presidency should not be subservient to outside powers and its decisions should be made inside the country.”
A harsh critic of Iran and Hezbollah, Fayyad, a Shiite, lamented that the March 14 movement, which was launched 10 years ago with noble objectives, has failed to achieve anything at all of its famous slogan: Freedom, sovereignty and independence.
“Where is sovereignty in a country that has been left without a president for nearly 10 months and its borders are open?” she asked.
Fayyad said Iran, through Hezbollah and MP Michel Aoun’s bloc, which have been boycotting Parliament sessions to elect a president since last April, is obstructing the presidential vote.
She contended that Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria had fueled sectarian tensions in Lebanon. “This is a party with a sectarian and confessional character. Its actions have led to a feeling of suppression among the Sunni community in Lebanon,” Fayyad said, adding: “Iran is the main instigator of the Sunni-Shiite conflict in the region.”
In the absence of an alternative force to the March 8 and March 14 blocs, Bou Habib called for pursuing the ongoing dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah.
“Perhaps, this dialogue can reach an agreement on the qualifications of the new president,” he said. He added that the March 8 and March 14 parties should also help ease internal tensions by “reducing the negative impact of their foreign commitments on Lebanon.”
Nader, the USJ professor, said he expected the emergence of a new political elite to do away with the acute political alignment between the March 8 and March 14 camps plaguing the country.
“Lebanon is poised for a renewal of political leadership that should have a coherent political nonsectarian project with promises of a bigger role for women in the country’s political life,” Nader said.
He said the current political class, both March 8 and March 14, has renewed the Parliament’s mandate twice, while leaving the country without a president for nearly 300 days, in addition to paralyzing Parliament legislation. “To end the current political divisions, a peaceful popular revolt, probably backed by foreign powers, is needed to transcend the March 8 and March 14 parties and create a new Cedar revolution,” he said.
Nader blamed regional turmoil and what he termed March 14 leaders’ “big mistakes” for the coalition’s failure to achieve its declared goals of “Freedom, sovereignty and independence.

Jumblatt urges Druze to back Joint Arab List
Mar. 13, 2015/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblatt urged Druze in Israel to vote for the Joint Arab List Thursday, ahead of parliamentary elections next week. “The current situation necessitates that Arab Druze confirm their Arab identity and their national Palestinian heritage ... [Voting for] the Joint Arab List is an important step in taking their rights as equal citizens,” Jumblatt said in a statement. “I direct this call to the Arab Druze in occupied Palestine who, along with their Palestinian brothers, are suffering from the occupation, oppression and injustice of the actions of Israel.”Israelis head to polls on March 17. “[Israel] wants to completely eliminate the Arab identity and [deny] all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” he contended. 1948 Palestinians, also known as Israeli Arabs, are Palestinians who remained on their lands in what became Israel after the 1948 war and elected to receive citizenship from the Israeli government. They have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens in their own country. The Joint Arab List includes four parties on a unified ticket for the first time, in a bid to become the third-largest bloc in the Knesset. Jumblatt cited the new bloc as an important reason for Israeli Arabs to unite and vote, adding that it was important to counter the international community’s bias in favor of the occupation. “This is a valuable opportunity to fortify Arab society and unify its vision regarding the Israeli-Palestinian struggle,” he said. “Perhaps [this] can constitute the beginning of a radical change in your reality and your future,” Lebanon’s Druze leader added.

Lebanese Cabinet OKs banking body appointments
Hasan LakkisHussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/Mar. 13, 2015 | 12:32 AM
BEIRUT: The Cabinet approved Thursday the appointment of a new five-member Banking Control Commission despite objections from some ministers, Information Minister Ramzi Joreige said. Speaker Nabih Berri praised Cabinet’s decision despite reservations voiced by a number of ministers. “This encourages more productivity in Cabinet work,” he was quoted as saying by visitors at his Ain al-Tineh residence. “This is a new indication of Cabinet’s new start.” “The appointment of the Banking Control Commission was essential despite the objection by a number of ministers,” Berri said. He added that Lebanon would have faced a problem with the outside world had the appointment not been made. Berri, according to the visitors, said he would call for more than one legislative session to approve essential draft laws labeled under the slogan “essential legislation.”He said he hoped parliamentary committees would finalize the public sector wage and ranks scale so it could be put on the agenda of a legislative session that he would later call. Berri earlier Thursday called for a joint meeting of the parliamentary Finance, Budget, Justice, Administration, Defense, Interior, Education and Cultural committees next Tuesday to study the salary and ranks scale. The speaker tasked MP Ibrahim Kanaan, head of the parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee, to chair Tuesday’s meeting over the wage hike bill, the National News Agency reported. The BCC’s new members are Samir Hammoud as president, and Joseph Sarkis, Ahmad Safa, Munir Alyan and Sami Azar as members, Joreige told reporters after the Cabinet session chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.
Each of the five members represented a different religious sect, in line with the state’s power sharing policy. Cabinet approved the appointments despite opposition from two ministers by resorting to a new consensus formula adopted last week. The formula does not require the unanimous support of all 24 ministers to approve decisions as had been the case in the past during the presidential vacuum. The Cabinet overrode objections to the appointments because the ministers who opposed the move feared the issue would be put up for a vote in the absence of a consensus, ministerial sources said. The sources said Salam’s suspension of the Cabinet sessions for two weeks due to a row over the decision-making mechanism had achieved its goal without resorting to the old formula, which required the unanimous support of all 24 ministers. The smooth appointment of the BCC’s members despite reservations by some ministers might pave the way for the approval of other public appointments, the sources said. The Cabinet also approved a request issued by the Public Works Ministry calling for maintenance work to be carried out on roads following severe damage caused by a series of storms that battered Lebanon over the past two months. Before entering the session, ministers had voiced contradictory views about the BCC appointments. Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, from the March 8 coalition, had said he was “fully ready” to discuss the matter, stressing that he was adamantly opposed to “extending or renewing” the commission’s term, which expires on March 17. March 14 Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb stressed that “extension” is an option in case there was no agreement on the names of candidates on the commission. Some ministers initially expressed reservations over the appointments because new members are supposed to take an oath before the president. Lebanon has been without president for more than nine months.

From the Jerusalem Post: Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: What happens if you lose – is your career over?
By GIL HOFFMAN/03/12/2015
Watch: Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman sits down with the PM for a one-on-one interview.
Four days ahead of Tuesday’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life.
The Zionist Union’s lead is growing. The Likud’s satellite parties on the Right and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu are biting off chunks of its support.
Netanyahu’s fate appears to be in the hands of President Reuven Rivlin, with whom he has sparred for three decades. His refusal to endorse Rivlin’s run for president could come back to haunt him next week, when the president begins the process of assigning a candidate to form a new government.
Netanyahu says he believes Rivlin will make a “substantive” decision. But he is only human, and sources close to him said this week that he was devastated by the way Netanyahu tried desperately to prevent him from winning.
The appearance of Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel at Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was a reminder that Netanyahu went as far as offering the presidency to Wiesel, who lives in the US.
Even when Netanyahu did endorse Rivlin and he came up to shake the prime minister’s hand and thank him, Netanyahu did not look him in the eye and acted as if Rivlin’s hand repulsed him.
In an interview at the Prime Minister’s Residence in the capital, The Jerusalem Post asked Netanyahu whether he regrets how he treated Rivlin, what will happen to the country if the Zionist Union wins the election, and whether a loss would spell the end of his political career.
The following are excerpts.
Your Likud party is down in the polls, even in the Likud’s internal polls. If you don’t end up winning this election, with the Iranian threat being so serious now, do you believe Israel could be destroyed?
I think our security is at great risk because there is a real danger that we could lose this election. If the gap between the Likud and Labor continues to grow, a week from now [Isaac] Herzog and [Tzipi] Livni will become the prime ministers of Israel in a rotation with the backing of the Arab parties. That will cause such a monumental shift in policy that it will endanger the security of Israel – and anyone who wants to stop it has to vote Likud to narrow the gap.
There is no privilege now to vote for other parties. If you vote for Bayit Yehudi, you bring down the Likud’s mandates. That will bring Tzipi and Buji [Herzog] into the Prime Minister’s Office. If you vote for [Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor] Liberman or Kahlon, you bring down the Likud’s mandates. Liberman and Kahlon have not committed to recommending me to form the next government. They could very well go with the Left.
The only way to prevent a government of the Left with Tzipi and Buji as prime ministers, backed by the Arabs, is to vote for the Likud.
If they are in power and deal with the Iranian threat, will Israel be in trouble?
Of course we would be in trouble. They have said on several occasions that maybe the deal isn’t so bad, we can live with the deal. They did everything possible to criticize rather than support me, as I faced enormous pressure and went to explain Israel’s opposition to the deal – which could give Iran an easy path to the bomb and pose an existential threat to Israel.
Not only have they not supported me, they have said we should bow our heads to the US. I have great respect for the presidency, for President [Barack] Obama. I have great respect for our alliance, even when there are disagreements. When the security needs of Israel require me to take a step that is contrary to what is put forward by the US president, that’s what I’m here for. That’s what a leader of Israel has to do.
Herzog and Livni can’t stand up to Obama?
They can’t stand up for a second! A millisecond. They have zero leadership. They believe the only thing they have to do is say yes to any demand that comes from the best of our allies, and no, we shouldn’t.
I believe we should do whatever we can to maintain our relations with the US, but we should also know to draw the line when things that could endanger us are on the table – like the nuclear deal with Iran, like the insistence that we return to pre-1967 lines and build another “Hamastan,” like the demand we divide Jerusalem. We have to stand up against these things; that’s what the prime minister of Israel is elected for.
People in the US respect a prime minister who stands up for the State of Israel, and you’re not going to get that from Tzipi and Buji. You will get prime ministers who completely prostrate themselves before any pressure. Not only can’t they stand up to pressure, they don’t want to stand up to the pressure. They just want to yield and give in, because they think that the way to secure our existence is by giving into Arab demands and being less demanding ourselves against the Iranian nuclear program.
On the Palestinian issue, it’s been reported that Obama intends to use his last 22 months in office to try to force through a plan that would compel Israel to make a lot of concessions. How will you be able to stand up to that pressure?
I’ve been prime minister for nine years, and I’ve shown my proven capacity to withstand pressure and stand up for the interests of Israel in a careful and responsible way. Sometimes that means stating a position outright and galvanizing support for it in the US and Israel.
Respect for Israel in the US is at a record high, despite the differences there have been with the administration. More than 70 percent in the US believe that this agreement won’t stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yes, there will be pressures to withdraw to pre-’67 lines and divide Jerusalem; yes, there will be pressures to relinquish our opposition to the Iranian deal. If the gap between the Likud and Labor is not shrunk, then Buji and Tzipi will be here and with the support of the Arabs will capitulate on all fronts.
There have been reports that you yourself capitulated during the negotiations, that there are documents which were published. Is there any validity to any of this?
It is utterly false. These were American positions, not my positions. I made it clear that I refuse to divide Jerusalem and go back to pre-1967 lines, that I demand the Palestinians give up a right of return. Those were and are my positions.
The US presidential race is starting. You have good relations with the Republican leaders. How is your relationship with Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner (if she runs)?
The relationship is good, with everyone. I don’t see our relationship based on party lines. I made that clear in my speech in Congress; the reception I got proves that.
You’ve talked about a global campaign to try to bring you down. Who are these people uniting against you to try to take you out of office?
There is a massive effort, with tens of millions of dollars according to some estimates to mobilize the Arab vote – because they know they will support Herzog to form a blocking coalition. It’s a massive effort, and we only see a small part of that glacier.
There are individuals. Some governments are involved that are supporting various efforts. There is V15, an effort to mobilize left-of-center voters with huge investments. Foreign consultants are here in droves, and the money is flowing here. All of it is intended to make the Likud lose.
What’s wrong with fund-raising abroad? You raise money for your political campaigns exclusively from Jews in the Diaspora.
The procedures for primaries are well-regulated, everyone knows what they are, and the money is a pittance, compared to the millions flowing now. It is a clear effort to cleverly evade the election laws and buy the elections with these circumventions. There is no comparison with raising money for primaries, which I do abroad because I don’t want to be beholden to the Israeli tycoons and business leaders.
I want to receive modest support from people who do not have business here because I am in charge of the Israeli economy. I’ve done the reforms here that have made Israel grow. I’ve made it possible for the Israeli economy to rise in GDP per capita – to pass Cyprus and Greece, Italy, Spain and soon we’ll overtake France; to create hundreds of thousands of jobs; to create rail lines; to block the borders from infiltrations. These are some of the things.
We’ve done dozens of things that have changed the landscape of the Israeli economy and created a technological, free-market powerhouse. Can you name one reform that Tzipi and Buji have done? Kahlon can name one reform, but it was my reform according to his own testimony. He said he couldn’t have done the reform that lowered cellular prices without Netanyahu.
We still have plenty to do in the housing market, but we can only do it if the Likud forms the government. The statist government-controlled economy that Labor believes in will be the added blow to the people of Israel, along with their capitulations on the diplomatic-security front. That’s something the people of Israel don’t want.
But it’s looking like the president will say the Likud and the Zionist Union have to run the government together. How would you prevent it?
To get the right to form the government you need to have many more Likud votes. It is critical to get the Right to form a government. I don’t believe in a unity government, because a gulf exists between us and the Labor. It’s not the Labor that used to be; anti-Zionists have permeated Labor, so no unity government will hold. Therefore there is no point in trying.
What about building a coalition with the Right and the ultra-Orthodox and Kahlon like you say you want to, but then adding Labor afterward into a Likud-led government – which would be wider and more stable, and would present an image of unity around the world when we are facing an Iranian threat?
I doubt very much that Labor would agree to that, because they are now controlled by this extreme anti-Zionist part of their party. It’s a regrettable change, but it’s a fact.
Do you regret not supporting Rivlin’s candidacy for president?
I respect President Rivlin; he respects me. We have known each other for many years, since childhood really. I think he understands his role as president and from his point of view, he is going to take a substantive approach.
What happens if he says there has to be a rotation?
The way this will be decided is by the largest party and the most recommenders; it’s a balance between the two. That’s what our opponents understand.
What happens if it goes wrong – is your career over?
I think the crucial thing is not my career but this country’s security and its commitment to a free-market economy. That’s the economy. You have to ask that.
Is there any hope for convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to go free as long as Obama is president of the United States?
I never give up hope; I ask repeatedly again and again and again to have him freed. I almost got him freed twice with president [Bill] Clinton and president Obama. Neither came to fruition. I regret it, because he’s more than paid his dues and I think it’s time that he came home.
Will you allow the ultra-Orthodox to change decisions that were made in your government to curb haredi draft-dodging, fund Reform and Conservative rabbis and create an egalitarian prayer area near the Western Wall?
My governments have always struck a balance between the respect for the diversity of the Jewish world and of Israel and the importance of continuing our traditions. There is a delicate balance. I did that with the Neeman Commission on conversion in my first term, and with the Sharansky Commission on the Western Wall in this term. These are creative solutions that address the proper balance between tradition and change.
Judaism has always known how to balance inclusivity and exclusivity; it’s an important balance that must be maintained.
I’ve also asked the haredim to join the economy, and taken steps to that effect as finance minister and prime minister. I created the [IDF’s] Nahal Haredi [unit], which is a great change in which they come into service.
I wanted these changes to be made by consensus as much as possible and not through a clash, which doesn’t serve our people. When we have so many enemies seeking to annihilate us and they don’t draw a difference between Orthodox and secular, under those circumstances, I think my policy of respecting diversity and tradition will continue.
I don’t hear my opponents saying they will exclude haredi parties; they don’t say that. Their real passion is to retreat on the territorial front, on the security front on Iran, and bow their heads and hope someone will pat them on the back. That is their concept of statesmanship – it’s not mine.
The days when Jews bow their heads are over. To the extent that it depends on me, they will never come back.

Netanyahu and his Likud are running out of time to survive the March 17 ballot
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 12, 2015
Five days before Israel’s snap election, people who have seen Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu close up say he looks weary and, behind his controlled façade, shocked to discover that his Likud party faces the real possibility of being thrown out of office on March 17. At a meeting of the party faithful, Wednesday, March 11, he warned - not once but again and again - that if they don’t get a move on fast, Israel could be stuck with “Bougie and Tzipi” [Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni co-leaders of the opposition Zionist Camp] as prime ministers.
The former Labor party keeps on overtaking Likud in opinion polls – not by much but consistently. When the figures hit 24-25 Knesset seats to his party’s 21, Netanyahu finally bestirred himself to go stumping across the country.
He hasn’t yet lost the race for another term in the prime minister’s office, but he will need to pull some rabbits out of his hat and aces from his sleeve if he wants to be chosen by the president as the most credible candidate for forming the next government. Herzog may get there first.
This campaign has held a couple more surprises and others may be in store in the short time remaining.
Future, led by Yair Lapid (former finance minister), has shot up from a single digit to 12-13 in the same opinion polls. He is thinking seriously of setting up a centrist bloc straight after the election results are in, along with the former Likud Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon who struck out with his own Kulanu party (11) for its first campaign, and former Likud partner, Avidor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu.
This threesome believes that together, as the largest political grouping, they can persuade the president to designate Lapid to try and form a government coalition.
Against this pretty far-fetched background, Lieberman (currently foreign minister) has been going around saying he expects to be defense minister in the next administration. Kahlon has high hopes of the treasury.
This alliance of small parties with big ideas is giving both Netanyahu and Herzog nightmares in the sense that collectively they may be in a position to determine which of the two is designated prime minister.
Depending on the outcome of an election, which it must be said is still up for grabs, the two may still opt to combine to set up a unity government with the premiership rotating between them.
Netanyahu owes his current dire straits to seven causes:
1. For too long he has belabored the Iranian nuclear issue, which may be a hot topic in Washington, but no longer holds the interest of the action-oriented Israeli voter. His rivals point out that he has been talking about it for six years but done very little, and what he has done can’t be revealed. No future Israeli leader can be expected to do more. And so, absurdly, a nuclear-armed Iran has become a non-issue in the very country most threatened.
2. If Netanyahu counted on his spectacular performance before the US Congress to win him the election, he miscalculated. TV screens and front pages at home pushed aside scenes of cheering American lawmakers to make way for unsavory peeks into alleged petty misdemeanors – often trumped up - committed in the household of Netanyahu and his wife Sara. The poison built up insidiously in the public consciousness.
3. The media might have been forced to give more space to Likud leaders had Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon made intelligent presentations of their security policy. They might have gained popular ground by pointing to their policies which, by restraint and prudence, were holding back the real menaces besetting the country at every hand: Palestinian radical Hamas, which has been prevented from setting up West Bank rocket positions against Tel Aviv; Hizballah in Lebanon and the creeping Iranian military presence on the Golan.
By avoiding this course, Likud relinquished its strongest card, the security ticket, the only one on which Netanyahu has experience and credibility as prime minister, when compared with any of his rivals, especially the less than macho Herzog.
4. Likud’s leaders also slipped up badly by neglecting to present a remedial program for festering social ills, such as the yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots, the young couples hard put to support families, or first-time voters for whom affordable housing and prices are distant dreams. Contacts with a suffocating bureaucracy make more enemies.
The soundest economy in the West and the country's first functioning cross-country road and rail system don’t cut it.
4. Likud left it far too late to start electioneering in earnest. Only this week, did Netanyahu start rushing to the rescue in a tardy bid to bring a dull and sluggish campaign to life. The Israeli street responded in kind. In contrast, wherever a prospective voter turned, he and she found Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett (pro-settlement Habayit Hayehudi leader) and Kahlon (whose numbers have risen to 11) selling their platforms on every doorstep.
5. Netanyahu is also finding that challenging a sitting American president is no vote-catcher in Israel – even if national security at stake. Although Washington’s Middle East policies may be fairly criticized, any political hopeful seen to jeopardize US friendship may expect to pay the price at the ballot box.

FPI Bulletin: In the War on ISIS, Iran is Not a Reliable Partner
By Tzvi Kahn/ March 12, 2015
The Foreign Policy
President Obama’s belief that Iran can serve as a reliable partner in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Tehran’s objectives. Iran seeks not to complement U.S. efforts to advance regional stability, but to project its own hegemonic ambitions. Through its support for Shiite militias in Iraq and the dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Tehran is fueling the sectarian violence in which ISIS thrives. If President Obama expects Congress to grant him a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), he must put forward a more compelling strategy.
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Tehran has worked relentlessly to turn Iraq into a client state led by Shi’ite militants. After Saddam Hussein’s fall, pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias filled the void created by the collapse of the Iraqi army, enabling Tehran to exert substantial influence in Baghdad and sponsor attacks on U.S. forces.
David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, wrote at the time that he was “considering telling the president that I believe Iran is, in fact, waging war on the United States in Iraq, with all of the U.S. public and governmental responses that could come from that revelation.” Thankfully, a surge of American forces along with a new approach to counterinsurgency enabled Petraeus to dramatically reduce the influence both of Iran and of Sunni extremists. By resisting both Sunni and Shi’ite extremism, the United States helped to usher in a period of stability in Iraq.
Unfortunately, after the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the country again spiraled into sectarian conflict, just as the civil war in neighboring Syria was heating up.
It was not foreordained in the spring of 2011 that Islamist extremists would hijack the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. But when it seemed that Assad might be overthrown, Tehran moved aggressively to prop up his regime by providing it with military supplies and training, and has dispatched members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to help guide the operations of Syrian forces. Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias and the terrorist group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy and a key ally of Assad, have also joined the fighting. As the conflict escalated, the fight against Assad became a magnet for extremists, fueling the rise of ISIS.
In this conflict, Iran seeks to defeat ISIS, but only as a means of consolidating its own influence in Syria. Meanwhile, the brutality of Tehran’s clients in Syria is forcing the country’s Sunni population to cooperate with ISIS as a desperate means of self-preservation.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has failed to recognize that U.S. and Iranian interests do not align. On the contrary, the administration has portrayed Tehran as an ally in the pursuit of a common cause. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported in November that President Obama had sent a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressing interest in working together to confront ISIS should the two nations reach an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Similarly, in December, President Obama said that success in nuclear negotiations with Tehran can enable the country to become “a very successful regional power,” which “would be good for everybody.” In the same month, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the “net effect” of Iranian attacks against ISIS “is positive.” In September, Secretary Kerry said, “The fact is there is a role for nearly every country in the world to play [in defeating ISIS], including Iran.”
President Obama’s flawed strategy for defeating ISIS is built around this misunderstanding of Tehran’s interests and motives. By presenting ISIS as an isolated problem that the United States can defeat while ignoring its regional context, the administration empowers Iran to pursue with impunity its true objective: hegemony over Iraq and Syria. It is precisely in this context that a bad nuclear deal would risk affirming Iran’s mastery over the region.
Iran’s hegemonic ambitions helped generate the regional conditions that made the rise of ISIS possible; opposing Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions therefore constitutes a prerequisite for any strategy to defeat it. If the United States fails to recognize this reality, it risks even further destabilizing the two countries as they succumb to the influence of their Islamist neighbor — an outcome that would be good for nobody.

Iran and the Pro-Mullah Lobby’s Arguments
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 13 Mar, 2015
Campaigning for a deal on the Iranian nuclear issue, the pro-mullah lobby in the West, especially in the United States, often cites three claims in support of President Barack Obama’s appeasement of Tehran.
The first is that a deal will help the “reformist” wing of the regime led by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—which already controls the presidency through Hassan Rouhani—to capture other levers of power and embark on a genuine program of change aimed at returning Iran to normality.
Rafsanjani is cast as a moderate, a turbaned version of Deng Xiaoping, capable of closing the chapter of the revolution and forging business-like relations with the US. Much is made of Rafsanjani’s recent statements that he has always favored collective leadership and that once the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei is shown the door, he would press for a collegial system and the end of “one-man rule” in Iran.
The first step in that direction was supposed to come last Monday when Rafsanjani sought to get himself elected president of the Assembly of Experts—a body of 86 mullahs who can elect and dismiss the “Supreme Guide.” So sure were they of Rafsanjani’s victory that a number of Tehran newspapers financed by his faction came out with headlines screaming “Hashemi Returns!” even before the assembly had convened.
This faction spread a rumor that Khamenei was terminally ill and might not last more than two years, thus leaving Iran’s future in the hands of Rafsanjani.
Capturing the Assembly of Experts was supposed to be the first step in a victorious march that would enable the Rafsanjani faction to win control of the Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis, the 290-member ersatz parliament.
However the Assembly of Experts elected Ayatollah Muhammad Yazdi—one of Rafsanjani’s oldest foes and a close associate of Khamenei—as its new president with 47 votes to 24.
The Rafsanjani faction’s hopes of winning control of the parliament next year are unlikely to prove any better. Several polls show that even if the faction manages to mobilize all those who voted for Rouhani—33 percent of those eligible to vote—it still would not be enough to secure a majority of the 230 seats on offer.
The second claim, paradoxically, is built on a fatwa supposedly issued by Khamenei forbidding the use of nuclear weapons. Thus, while Obama hopes that Rafsanjani will eventually evict Khamenei, he is basing his policy on a fatwa issued by the latter.
Since no one, and certainly not Obama, has seen the fatwa in question it is hard to assess its political importance. However in real terms the fatwa, supposing it does exist, is nothing more than an opinion and is thus devoid of legal authority.
The third claim is that the nuclear project is popular with the Iranian people and that by accepting a nuclear Iran the US would gain popularity there. However, ultimately there is no evidence to back that claim. The issue has never been properly discussed in any public forum, not even in the Majlis. In fact, successive governments, including under the Shah, have suppressed a number of reports warning against the dangers of a nuclear project, especially with reference to the threat that earthquakes pose to nuclear installations on almost all parts of the Iranian Plateau.
More importantly, perhaps, the nuclear program will make Iran dependent on the outside world for its energy needs as never before.
The first form of dependence concerns the building of nuclear power stations. Iran has possessed the technology and the skilled labor force to build hydroelectric and oil or natural gas-fueled power stations since the 1970s. However, it has absolutely no capacity for constructing, let alone designing, nuclear power stations. The only way it can achieve that capacity is through years of cooperation with one or more of the older industrial nations.
The second form of dependence stems from the fact that the enriched uranium needed for operating Iran’s only nuclear power plant—located on the Bushehr Peninsula—must conform to codes developed and enriched by Russia. The uranium Iran is enriching cannot be used at Bushehr. This means that Russia could shut down the Iranian plant whenever it wishes to do so.
The third form of dependence stems from the fact that Iran’s uranium ore deposits, located close to the Lut desert, can provide fuel for two or three power plants but for no longer than a decade.
This means that even if Iran were able to design and build its own nuclear power plants, it would still be dependent on imports of uranium ore or so-called “yellow-cake” uranium to ensure its fuel beyond the first 10 years. (The average life of a nuclear power plant is 40 years). Thus, Iran has enough ore to make 100 or so bombs, but not enough to provide fuel for two or three medium-sizes nuclear power plants.
The fourth form of dependence Iran will experience is related to its inability to handle spent fuel from nuclear power plants. At present only six countries have the technology to reprocess spent fuel. Iran would therefore be forced to depend on their goodwill to get rid of the spent fuel from its putative nuclear power plants.
Finally, Iran would face a fifth form of dependence.
Nuclear power plants have to be de-commissioned and mothballed after three or four decades but remain dangerous for several centuries. As a British government study showed in 2013, de-commissioning a nuclear plant is costlier than building one. Managing the environmental effects of de-commissioned nuclear power plants is also a costly process that is at present mastered by only six or seven nations.
Obama’s hope is that by making a deal he will enable Rafsanjani’s “moderate” faction to win the power struggle in Tehran and initiate a change of behavior by the Khomeinist regime.
That, many agree, is nothing but an illusion. In his address to the US Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also seemed to share this sentiment.
As Aristotle observed 25 centuries ago, character is action. In other words: You are what you do! A regime’s nature dictates its behavior. As Saadi Shirazi—the famous poet of Shiraz—noted almost eight centuries ago, a scorpion does not sting because it wants to be a bad boy; it does so in accordance with its nature.