May 07/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Beware of the teaching (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Matthew 16/11-20: "How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah."

Bible Quotation For Today/Be of the same mind, same love, and have one mind
Letter to the Philippians 02/01-11: "If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 06-07/15
When Walid Jumblatt Speaks/Mshari Al-Zaydi/Al Arabiya/May 06/15
Netanyahu's short-term government/Eitan Haber/Ynetnews/May 06/15
Iran's allies, Specially Hezbollah not atoms, preoccupy Israeli generals/Reuters/Ynetnews/May 06-07/15

Nasrallah's Spech/Lebanese need answers/Daily Star/06/15
Shift in Saudi Oil Leadership/Simon Henderson/Washington Institute/May 06/15
The threat of a well-oiled Iranian lobby/Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/May 06/15
Why Iran’s regime is nearing its sell-by date/Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya/May 06/15
Syria and the new regional borders of influence/Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya/May 06/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 06-07/15
Jumblat Says Syria Used Lebanese Allies to Weaken Hariri
Lebanon's General Security chief, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim vows to free Lebanon hostages

Geagea responds to Nasrallah: I can’t find Sanaa or Qalamoun on Lebanon’s map
Geagea: LF, FPM Seeking Adoption of New Electoral Law in First Legislative Session

Maronite Bishops Urge Election of President 'to Avoid Regional Dangers'
Report: Mustaqbal Avoids Meeting FPM to Decide Fate of Roukoz
Jihadis as dangerous as Israel: Kahwagi 
Sanaa and Qalamoun not on Lebanon’s map: Geagea 
400 kg of narcotics found in north Lebanon cave
Ibrahim Rejects Claims by Nusra Front, Vows to Release Hostage Servicemen
Hariri Accuses Nasrallah of Acting as Owner of Lebanese Border Regions
Mashnouq Downplays Hostages Video, Says Qalamoun Battle to Impact Case
Jerusalem church readies for first modern Palestinian saints
Lebanon’s Jumblatt blames Syrian regime for Hariri killing
Gunmen fire on east Lebanon Army checkpoint, 2 wounded
Aoun Slams Attempt at 'Hegemony' over Christian Role in State Institutions

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 06-07/15
Obama, Iraqi Kurd leader, Massud Barzani meet at White House

Kerry to discuss 'humanitarian pause' in Yemen with Saudis
Top EU diplomat says Yemen conflict opens door to al-Qaeda
ISIS attack on Kurdish forces in Syria kills 16
Iran’s Khamenei: no place for military threats in nuclear talks
France delivered weapons to Syria rebels, book reveals
Aid agencies warn fuel shortages may end their work in Yemen
The Texas ISIS attack was not averted owing to US “human intelligence” deficit
After two attempts, U.N. starts zero-expectation talks on Syria
Assad tells besieged troops help is on the way
SIS attack on Kurdish forces in Syria kills 16
Tunisia hosts Jewish pilgrimage under tight security
Pakistan seizes 3 tons of hashish bound for Middle East, Europe
Iran's allies, not atoms, worry IDF generals
Is Israel’s call for a Middle East nuke-free zone a dream
Echoing Jefferson, what the U.S. should say about Texas
French judges end enquiry into Arafat’s 2004 death

Jihad Watch Latest News
Pamela Geller in Time Magazine: A Response to My Critics—This Is a War
Feds overlooked Texas jihadi because “there are so many like him”
Robert Spencer in PJM: PEN members forget purpose of free speech
Freedom of speech for criticizing Islam? There’s apparently no room for that in America.”
Islamic State opens 5-star resort in Iraq
Video: Robert Spencer on CNN discussing cartoons and free speech
Islamic State claims Texas jihad attack: “What’s coming will be even worse”
Video: Robert Spencer and Steve Malzberg discuss cartoons and the war on free speech
WSJ falsely claims AFDI/Jihad Watch Muhammad cartoon contest winner Bosch Fawstin goes into hiding
Islamic State on Pamela Geller: “We will send all our Lions to achieve her slaughter”

Jumblat Says Syria Used Lebanese Allies to Weaken Hariri
Naharnet 06/05/15/Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat recounted on Wednesday how the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used its allies in Lebanon to limit the powers of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his supporters. “Hariri was working on expanding the opposition on the unconstitutional extension” of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's term in 2004, Jumblat told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on the third day of his testimony. But one of Syria's allies, then Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh proposed an electoral draft-law that limited the powers of Hariri and the opposition backing him, said Jumblat. He told the Trial Chamber that the draft-law was an attempt to undermine his representation and that of Hariri. “That's why we rejected it.”
Franjieh, an MP who heads the Marada Movement, is a good friend of Assad, said Jumblat. “He used to act as a gang leader” when he was interior minister. The PSP chief also revealed that the lawmaker accused him on several occasions of being an Israeli agent.
A voice of recording of a February 1, 2005 meeting between Hariri and with then Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem was aired before the court to demonstrate the influence of Syria on political proceedings in Lebanon. The meeting showed an upset Hariri disputing with the Syrian official over the distribution of electoral districts for the 2005 parliamentary elections. Hariri also informed Muallem that he went ahead with the extension of Lahoud's term in order to avoid a dispute with Syria and President Bashar Assad, but added that “it is time that Lebanon be governed from Lebanon, not Syria,” explained Jumblat to the Prosecution.
The MP added: “I believe Muallem was seeking to appease Hariri before his assassination.” “I know the ways the Syrian regime works. It acted the same way weeks before the assassination of Kamal Jumblat” in 1977, he said. “Hariri wanted Lebanon to be governed independently from Syria and its security agencies, but while remaining its ally,” he continued when asked about the former PM's discussions with Muallem in the recording.“He wanted to be reassured that he will be able to perform his duties as prime minister without Syria treating Lebanon as a Syrian province,” he stated. The Prosecution then concluded its cross-examination of the MP and was followed by the Legal Representative of the Victims and then the Defense. The Defense will continue interrogating Jumblat on Thursday. On his second day of testimony, Jumblat said Hariri told him six days before he was assassinated on Feb. 14, 2005, “either they will kill you or they will kill me.” The attempt on the life of MP Marwan Hamadeh in October 2004 was the first warning to Hariri, he said.
“Hamadeh's assassination attempt was an interpretation of Assad's threat to Hariri,” said Jumblat. “It was the first clear message of … confrontation.”
According to Jumblat and several politicians who made testimonies at the STL, Hariri had confided to them that during a meeting they held in Damascus in August 2004, Assad threatened to destroy Lebanon if the former PM rejected the extension of Lahoud's term. Five Hizbullah members have been charged with plotting Hariri's assassination in a massive explosion at the Beirut seafront but have not been arrested. Their trial in absentia began in January 2014 and is ongoing. Hizbullah denies involvement in the murder and the group's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has denounced the court as a conspiracy by his archenemies — the U.S. and Israel.

Geagea: LF, FPM Seeking Adoption of New Electoral Law in First Legislative Session
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stressed on Wednesday the need to set as a priority the approval of a new parliamentary electoral law during the next legislative session. He stated before a delegation from Hawsh al-Oumara: “The LF and Free Patriotic Movement are working hard to adopt a new electoral law during the first legislative session because there are no other issues that are more pressing.”The law on restoring the nationality of Lebanese residing abroad is also one that enjoys the same importance, he added. He reassured that Lebanon's stability “will be maintained despite the challenges we are passing through caused by the failure to elect a new president and the paralysis of the government and parliament.”“The power to change is in the hands of the Lebanese people in the first parliamentary polls that will be held after the election of a president,” Geagea declared. Furthermore, he stressed that there can be no fear over the fate of Christians in the region given the rise of Islamist extremism and “in spite of what some sides are claiming.”“Do not fear and don't let anyone instill fear in you. We have endured circumstances that are thousands of times worse than what we are passing through. Our ancestors had persevered and we will as well,” the LF chief told his visiting delegation. Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 after the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the polls. The presidential vacuum has crippled the functioning of the government and the parliament. Earlier, Geagea had criticized the latest speech of Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the party's battle against militant groups in Syria's al-Qalamun region, tweeting: “I searched long on the Lebanese map and did not find any village on the border called Sanaa or al-Qalamun.” “I only found the town of al-Qalamoun near the city of Tripoli and it lies far away from the border,” he noted. “Can someone explain to me the defensive wars that Nasrallah is talking about? At any rate, who tasked him with waging defensive wars on behalf of all the Lebanese,” he wondered. On Monday, Islamist rebels led by al-Nusra Front launched a preemptive strike on pro-regime forces in a mountainous area near the Lebanese border, setting off fierce clashes. Al-Nusra and other groups attacked positions belonging to the regime and Hizbullah, which backs the government, in al-Qalamun. Last year, government forces backed by Hizbullah managed to expel rebels from most of Qalamun, which lies north of Damascus and runs along the Lebanese border. But opposition fighters remain entrenched in the mountainous area along the border with Lebanon, and have launched attacks from there.

Nasrallah's Spech/Lebanese need answers
The Daily Star/May. 06, 2015/Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah delivered a relatively subdued televised address Tuesday, but unlike the change in tone, there was little change in content.As widely expected, Nasrallah addressed the topic of Lebanon’s eastern border and the fighting there. Whatever their political orientation, Lebanese acknowledge the threat posed by jihadis to their country. But Hezbollah’s declaration that the Army is incapable of defeating the jihadis, and its decision to tackle the problem alone, can only lead to awkwardness. Hezbollah’s policy of secrecy as the battles rage – Nasrallah said the party’s “actions” would speak for themselves – is coupled with avoidance of any kind of consultation with the Lebanese authorities when it comes to hugely important matters such as the scope and ramifications of the fighting in Qalamoun. As evidenced by Nasrallah’s address, nothing has changed when it comes to Hezbollah’s stance, linked to its all-or-nothing involvement in the Syrian war, despite the repeated warnings by Lebanese parties about the consequences. In 2006, Lebanese widely supported resistance against Israel, but a single party appropriating the decision-making power on matters of war and peace generated a significant level of dissent. Nearly one decade later, Hezbollah has retained this stranglehold over events on the southern border while loudly proclaiming its “right” to champion involvement in the Syrian war and back Tehran’s active involvement in regional hotspots. This bravado only detracts from the party’s declared intention to rid Lebanon of the jihadi threat. All Lebanese have a stake in the developments, and to shut them out of debate is a sign that Hezbollah refuses to learn the lessons of its past.

Maronite Bishops Urge Election of President 'to Avoid Regional Dangers'
Naharnet /The Maronite Bishops Council reiterated on Wednesday the need to fill the vacuum in the presidency to allow Lebanon to properly confront regional dangers. It said in a statement after its monthly meeting: “These dangers, as well as the international interest in Lebanon due to its cultural and religious diversity, should prompt officials to elect a president.” “The successful elections will restore normalcy to the republic,” it added. “Political blocs should assume their responsibilities and sense the dangers lurking in the region instead of laying blame on each other,” added the council. Lebanon has been without a president since My 2014 after the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the polls. Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance and MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform blocs have been boycotting electoral sessions due to the dispute. The presidential vacuum has crippled the functioning of the government and the parliament.

Lebanon's General Security chief, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim vows to free Lebanon hostages

The Daily Star/May. 06, 2015 |/BEIRUT: General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has pledged to remain silent on efforts to secure the release of the 25 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage by Islamist militants. “For whatever reason, I won't allow [the captors] to spill the blood of any of our kidnapped soldiers,” Ibrahim said in remarks published Wednesday by local daily An-Nahar. Ibrahim was responding to messages made by Lebanese hostages in a new video posted by Nusra Front on its Twitter account Tuesday in which the captives said they would pay the price for any upcoming battle in Syria’s Qalamoun. The seven Shiite hostages who appeared in the video have also blasted Ibrahim for what they said were false promises. “I will not respond to any accusation,” he said, adding that he will respond in due time. Ibrahim said he will remain silent in order to “achieve success” in facilitating the release of the hostages away from media spotlight. The Nusra Front video came amid reports in Lebanon that Hezbollah and the Syrian army are expected to launch a battle against Nusra Front and ISIS jihadis in Qalamoun. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said in a televised speech Tuesday evening that his fighters would deal with jihadi threats on Lebanon’s eastern border, but gave no specific details on the location, scope and timing of any military operation. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk warned the Cabinet during a meeting Tuesday that the fighting raging between Hezbollah and the Nusra Front on the Syrian border could have negative effects on the hostage crisis.
Machnouk described the situation in Qalamoun as “dangerous” and said the Lebanese Army was solely responsible for protecting Lebanon and its borders. Nusra and ISIS are holding 25 servicemen hostage on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal since early last August.

Report: Mustaqbal Avoids Meeting FPM to Decide Fate of Roukoz
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal Movement reportedly dispatched a common acquaintance to inform the Free Patriotic Movement that there is no need for a meeting to discuss the fate of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Wednesday, Nader Hariri, the adviser of Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri, left Lebanon a day earlier without holding a meeting with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, FPM chief Michel Aoun's son-in-law. Media speculations said that Nader Hariri was expected to meet with Bassil to discuss the possibility of appointing Roukoz, Aoun's son-in-law, as army chief. The deal was expected to resolve the presidential crisis as Aoun would have to give up on his presidential aspirations.  The package will include the appointment of head of the Internal Security Force's Information Branch Imad Othman as ISF chief. Al-Joumhouria newspaper said that al-Mustaqbal didn't settle its final decision over the deal. The common friend informed the FPM that “no new developments that could change the course of the events have happened.” The FPM chief has previously rejected any attempts to extend the terms of high-ranking security officials.  In February, Aoun had withdrawn confidence from Defense Minister Samir Moqbel over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair. The FPM described Moqbel's extension decision as “illegal,” arguing that the defense minister's jurisdiction states that he can extend the terms under the authority of a president. Media reports had said that Aoun's main objective is to receive political consensus on the appointment of Roukoz as army chief as part of a package for the appointment of other top security officers. Roukoz's tenure ends in October while the term of army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji expires at the end of September. Despite the reports about his insistence to have his son-in-law as army chief, Aoun denied that he had made such a proposal. The military posts in Lebanon are suffering as the result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman whose tenure ended in May last year. The vacuum also threatens the ISF as chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous is set to retire in June.

Geagea responds to Nasrallah: I can’t find Sanaa or Qalamoun on Lebanon’s map
The Daily Star/May. 06, 2015 /BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Wednesday criticized Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah over his pledge one day earlier to fight jihadi groups in Syria's Qalamoun region to shield nearby Lebanon. “Nasrallah [said]: ‘Our wars, from Sanaa to Qalamoun, are defensive',”Geagea posted on his Twitter account Wednesday. “Can someone explain to me what defensive wars Sayyed Nasrallah is talking about?”With sarcastism, the LF chief went on to say: “I have long been searching Lebanon’s map, but could not find any border village called Sanaa, or any village called Qalamoun,” he continued. “I only found one village called Qalamoun near Tripoli, but it’s located at the heart of the Lebanese territory and not on the borders.” Qalamoun, a Syrian mountain range that straddles Lebanon's eastern border where jihadi groups have a strong foot hold, shares its name with a northern village. Regardless of whether Hezbollah’s fight was defensive, Geagea said the group does not have the right to engage in battles in the name of Lebanon. “In any case, who tasked him (Nasrallah) with waging defensive wars on behalf of the Lebanese,” Geagea asked. Nasrallah announced in a speech Tuesday night that his party’s fighters were determined to oust jihadis in the Qalamoun region. Nasrallah did not specify any details about the long anticipated military operation, but said his group would “not seek permission from anybody.”

Gunmen fire on east Lebanon Army checkpoint, 2 wounded
The Daily Star/May. 06, 2015 /BEIRUT/BAALBEK: Two soldiers were slightly wounded when gunmen opened fire on a military position in the eastern city of Baalbek, an Army statement said Wednesday. The statement did not say when the attack in the Baalbek neighborhood of Sharawneh took place. A security source, however, told The Daily Star the shooting in the heart of Sharawneh took place around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The source said gunmen in a 4WD vehicle opened fire on a Lebanese Army checkpoint at the entrance to the village, wounding two soldiers. The source also said one of the gunmen is known to security forces. He was identified as A.S. Jaafar, who is wanted on multiple arrest warrants. The Army said one suspect was arrested following a chase and an assault rifle in his possession was confiscated. The statement said the Army was in pursuit of the other accomplices. Separately, the statement said six individuals were arrested during raids in north and east Lebanon Tuesday evening. Two men were apprehended in the northern Akkar town of Shadra for carrying five assault rifles and ammunition. They were identified as Ammar Ahmad al-Ahmad and Ali Hasan al-Sheikh. In the Bekaa Valley town of Faour, the military arrested four men for exchanging fire, according to the statement. Two assault rifles and ammunition were seized during the raid.

 Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi : Jihadis as dangerous as Israel
The Daily Star/May. 06, 2015 /BEIRUT: Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Wednesday said that Syria-based jihadis and Israel essentially posed the same threat. "Confronting terrorism is not less dangerous than the Army confronting the enemy (Israel)," Kahwagi said in a speech on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day. "Terrorism and Israel are two sides of the same coin,” he said, adding that the Army will not tolerate jihadi groups like ISIS or the Nusra Front to spread in Lebanon. “The Army will not allow terrorists to establish a foothold in Lebanon,” he warned. The Lebanese Army has been engaged in battles with ISIS and Nusra Front militants since jihadis briefly overran the northeastern border town of Arsal last August. As they retreated, the militants took with them dozens of soldiers and policemen hostage. They are still holding 25 servicemen captive. Kahwagi said he would spare no effort to ensure the release of the hostages.

Jerusalem church readies for first modern Palestinian saints
Agence France Presse/May. 06, 2015/OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Jerusalem's Latin Patriarchate on Wednesday hailed the upcoming canonization by Pope Francis of two nuns who will become the first modern-day Palestinian saints. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas of Jerusalem and Mariam Bawardy of Galilee, both of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine during the 19th century, will be canonized at the Vatican in Rome later this month. "In Rome, Pope Francis will declare on May 17 two Palestinian nuns as saints, and we are in full preparation," Bishop William Shomali told journalists. The pair's canonisation "means that holiness is still possible, that... spiritual perfection is still possible," he said. "Our Holy Land continues to be holy, not only because of the holy places it hosts, but also because good people live here."Pope Francis announced in February that the two nuns would be canonised - the first Palestinian Arabs to gain sainthood. Ghattas was born in Jerusalem in 1847, and died there in 1927. She was beatified - the final step before canonisation - in 2009.
Bawardy was born in Galilee, now in northern Israel, in 1843. She became a nun in France and died in Bethlehem in 1878. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1983. Although there are several saints who lived in the region during Christianity's early days, Bawardy and Ghattas are the first to be canonised from Ottoman-era Palestine. "The Catholic Church has its own parameters to honour the best and outstanding among its faithful," Shomali said. "Our Holy Land has given hundreds of saints during its long history. Our greatest saint is Holy Mary, mother of Jesus."But we have three only from the modern period, whose language was not Greek, or Latin, nor Aramaic, but Arabic."The canonization of a third Palestinian - a Salesian monk - is still under review by the Church.

The Texas ISIS attack was not averted owing to US “human intelligence” deficit
DEBKAfile Special Report May 5, 2015,
The two American gunmen who Sunday, May 3, tried - and failed - to shoot up an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, northeast of Dallas, sounded a wakeup call for US intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies - even before the Islamic State warned that this first attack on US soil would not be its last. The two homegrown terrorists, Elton Simpson, a Christian who converted to Islam, and Nadir Soofi, son of a Pakistani father and American mother, carried submachine guns and explosives and wore body armor – attesting to the existence of an organization behind the attack.
That organization is believed to be made up of small sleeper cells of two to three terrorists each, ready to spring into action on orders from distant controllers.
Both were young men in their mid-twenties. The half-Pakistani Muslim Soofi scraped a living from cleaning carpets, while Simpson was out of work. They failed to perpetrate mass murder because they made every possible mistake. And so after inflicting a scratch on one of the unarmed guards, both were shot dead by local police officers securing the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" at the Curtis Culwell Center, which offered a $10,000 prize for the best artwork or cartoon depicting the Prophet.
For the past two years, Simpson and Soofi have been running posts and images on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram extolling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and all its works, threatening American Christians with revenge and declaring that terrorist attacks were coming.
Shortly before the Dallas event opened, an explicit threat to mete out punishment to those insulting the Prophet Mohammad in Texas, like in Denmark and Paris, appeared on a Twitter account (since de-activated) belonging to AbuHussainAlBritani, known to security services as an ISIS platform.
Simpson had been known as an FBI target since 2010. Then, he made no secret of his plans to travel to Somalia, take advanced studies in Islam and die as a martyr. He was arrested , convicted only of making a false statement to the forces of the law and released on probation. After that, a double agent persuaded him to talk for hundreds of hours on tape, candidly admitting that he intended one day in the future to take part in a deadly terrorist operation.
Yet Simpson was not detained, or even placed under extra surveillance.
Data flowing from Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is critical in the war on terror: social networks like Twitter and Facebook serve terrorists around the world widely for passing information, arranging rendezvous, filling in the gaps of operational directives and, above all, disseminating their messages.
The US National Security Agency, as well as European and other agencies, maintain blanket surveillance of the social networks, transferring their content in almost real time to giant computers at agency headquarters for filtering and analysis. It is hard to understand how the radical online messages and outspoken tweets by Soofi and Simpson, which left no room to doubt their intentions, escaped interface by those computers with their past records and views.
The pair was therefore free to drive from Arizona to Texas in late April, in a car registered in one of their names, and armed with machine guns.
They pulled up at the Curtis Culwelll center, where the Mohammed cartoon exhibit opened in the presence of Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which has sponsored anti-Islamic advertising campaigns across the country, and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and anti-Islamic campaigner who is on an al Qaeda hit list. When they reached their destination, they were not stopped until they actually started shooting - and only then thanks to the fast reflexes of a police guard on the spot.
That Simpson and Soofi were permitted to get so far is best explained by a certain weakness in the human intelligence capabilities of US and Western intelligence, the shortage of undercover agents able to mingle in communities and populations with the potential for producing radical elements capable of committing terrorist murder and suicide in the name of their faith. These agents must be able to pass unnoticed in mosques, bazaars and cafes, and have an ear for local dialects, street talk and inflections, so as to catch onto dangers through innuendo.
Digital intelligence, however extensive, is no substitute for human intelligence. It takes an undercover human agent on the ground to pick up on terrorist threats in time to thwart attacks.

Help is on the way: Assad tells besieged troops in Shughur
Reuters/May. 06, 2015 /BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday that army troops would head to the outskirts of an insurgent-held town to help besieged soldiers holed up on its outskirts, and justified recent army setbacks as part of normal warfare.
Last month Islamist insurgents captured the town of Jisr al-Shughur in Syria's Idlib province, edging closer to the government-held heartland of Latakia along the coast. He was speaking at an event to commemorate martyrs at a school in an undisclosed location. In a rare public appearance, he was surrounded by crowds of people who chanted in support. Security officials held back surging crowds. Remarking that to-and-fro gains were normal in any war, Assad said the armed forces would remain resolute.
"Psychological defeat is the final defeat and we are not worried," he said. Assad said while the army was waging a relentless war across swathes of territory and gaining ground, there were occasions when the fighters had to "retreat back when the situation warrants."
Battles have been raging around the hospital on the southwestern outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur where army forces and allied fighters have been holed up since the insurgent offensive began, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group.

Netanyahu's short-term government
Eitan Haber/Ynetnews/Published: 05.06.15, 10:44 / Israel Opinion
Op-ed: There have been governments in Israel with a tiny majority that allowed themselves to make big moves; but Netanyahu is not Begin, he is not Sharon, and he is definitely not Rabin.
If Benjamin Netanyahu remains with only 61 coalition members in the coming days, Israel's citizens are entitled to recalculate the route and prepare for the next election campaign. It will only be a matter of a few months before they are called back to the polling stations, and until then Netanyahu will have to again produce all his political magic, juggling and acrobatic skills in order to continue to hold on to the title of prime minister.
Let there be no misunderstandings: There have been governments in Israel that have had a tiny majority and allowed themselves to make big moves. Menachem Begin's second government, for example, won the confidence of only 61 Knesset members and allowed itself to launch the first Lebanon War. Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan was supported by a majority in the Knesset that relied on the Labor Party, and the Oslo II Accord was approved with a majority of two MKs – after two other MKs defected from the Labor Party and after the Oslo I Accord, the Declaration of Principles, won a majority of 11 MKs. Such things have happened in the past, but Netanyahu is not Begin, he is not Sharon, and he is definitely not Yitzhak Rabin. He is Bibi, for good and for bad.
Most importantly, times have changed. What happened on the political level in the past few years that has disrupted the governability in the State of Israel and might send us back to the polling stations soon? With all due respect to democratic life in this country, and there is a lot of respect, it seems that the blame rests first and foremost on the parties' primary elections. What used to be a symbol, sign and example of democratic conduct became an axe to splinter democracy.
Let me explain: The formula for success in Israeli politics today is what we call "name recognition," a familiar name. Success in the internal elections is measured first and foremost according to how famous a person's name is. The candidate can be a war hero, a distinguished statesman, a successful person in every area of life – but if his name is not recognized by the public he won't be elected, or will be placed at a low spot.
Every candidate knows this secret: In the party polls, and later on in the national polls, many people vote for the more familiar name. That's the reason why candidates are willing to do anything they can think of in order to have their first and last names mentioned as many times as possible. The first person to understand the change in this political-media map was Netanyahu, who leveraged the prevalence of his surname through Operation Entebbe, and to this very day many people believe that his late brother Yoni was the operation's commander, although the real commander was Dan Shomron.
In the current conditions, it's safe to assume that in the Likud's next primary elections MK Oren Hazan will reach a top spot – and he has his good luck to thank for that fact that he worked as a casino manager, because the publicity following the exposure of this past job is worth millions. Sounds ridiculous? Funny? It's the truth. But the high spot in the primary elections convinces every MK that he did it himself, to himself, and doesn’t owe anyone anything. In other words: Every bastard is a king. That's why today's MKs allow themselves to do what their predecessors didn't allow themselves to do – to disregard the senior decision makers and act as they do, whether as individuals or as part of a faction.
It's possible that there is no better method than the primary elections in our democracy, but it's the primary elections which brought us to the current situation. Personally, I know many people who don't regret it – but why should the State of Israel pay the price?

Aoun Slams Attempt at 'Hegemony' over Christian Role in State Institutions
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Wednesday warned of a perceived attempt at “hegemony” over the role of Christians in state institutions, as he stressed that “the forces of takfirism and terrorism will not defeat us.”
“We feel that some parties have the same dream that the Ottomans had in the past and this explains the attempt to displace Christians. In Lebanon we're witnessing an inclination towards hegemony in governance and towards weakening Christians and impeding their role,” said Aoun at a rally organized by the FPM, the Tashnag Party and the Syriac League to mark Lebanon's Martyrs Day and the “Centennial of the Genocide of Christians.” “The welfare that we enjoy will affect everybody and the evil we suffer will affect everybody. We have enough resolve to continue the journey and we promise you that the forces of takfirism and terrorism will not be able to defeat us,” Aoun vowed. He noted that “the barbarity that we're witnessing today” in the Middle East is “uglier than that of the past.”
“It has invoked the memories of the past and made us worry about the future,” Aoun added. “The Ottomans are to blame for the genocide after they refused to provide protection for the Christians and took part in the killings,” he said. “Because people who forget their history are doomed to repeat their mistakes, we won't accept any attempt at obliterating our history and we'll make this anniversary a national day for honoring our martyrs,” he went on to say.
Martyrs Day is a Lebanese and Syrian national holiday commemorating the Syrian and Lebanese nationalists executed in Damascus and Beirut on May 6, 1916 by Jamal Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of Greater Syria. They were executed in both the Marjeh Square in Damascus and Burj Square in Beirut. Both plazas have since been renamed Martyrs Square.On April 24, Armenians in Lebanon and around the world marked the centenary of the 1915 massacre of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces. Turkey, which was born out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, has refused to call the slaughter of Christian Armenians genocide. Ankara concedes that up to 500,000 people were killed, but says this was mostly due to fighting and starvation during World War I, when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.

Shift in Saudi Oil Leadership
Simon Henderson/Washington Institute/May 6, 2015
The latest restructuring in the Saudi hydrocarbon sector could mean new policies for the world's largest oil exporter. On May 1, two days after making radical changes in the kingdom's royal succession order and senior government posts, Riyadh announced that governance of the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco has been restructured. As with the previous changes (see "Riyadh Reshuffle"), a major beneficiary of the latest announcement is King Salman's favorite son Muhammad, a.k.a. MbS, the thirty-something defense minister and deputy crown prince who has now been named chairman of Saudi Aramco's newly formed ten-member Supreme Council. The post will give the prince crucial input into future Saudi oil policy, even though his qualifications for that role are meager at best. Until now, Saudi Aramco has been responsible for exploration, production, and marketing while the Oil Ministry (officially known as the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources) has concerned itself with policy. An umbrella body called the Supreme Petroleum Council once played an obscure role in the policymaking process, but King Salman abolished it immediately after his January accession.
Although separate entities, the Oil Ministry and Saudi Aramco have worked for years in apparent harmony as symbolized by the role of Ali al-Naimi, the seventy-nine-year-old company veteran who until last week served as both oil minister and Aramco chairman. He lost the latter, mainly honorary, position last week to Khalid al-Falih, another Aramco lifer. This change could precipitate Naimi's long-expected retirement as minister. Meanwhile, MbS will likely get to choose the next minister in his role as president of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. Among the probable candidates is his older half-brother Abdulaziz, the long-serving assistant oil minister who was promoted to deputy minister when Salman became king. But MbS is said to dislike his sibling, so he may choose a nonroyal instead.
Whatever the case, Naimi's exit could bring changes to Saudi oil policy, which he has guided cautiously and, on the whole, successfully for the past twenty years. He appeared to be as surprised as anyone by how quickly and deeply oil prices fell in the past twelve months. His apparent policy has been to suffer the drop while retaining market share, a tactic that proved at least partially correct in that prices have recovered from the low of below $50 per barrel to around $60 today. But the kingdom needs a minimum price of around $100 per barrel to sustain its current budgetary approach in the long term -- a figure that seems unlikely to reoccur any time soon barring a collapse in U.S. shale oil production, which has so far proven surprisingly resilient to the price drop. Moreover, a potential U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran could increase the amount of oil on the market, further dampening prices.
MbS's approach to oil policy is unknown, but his father's policies in the past three months border on the spendthrift. When he became king, Salman ordered a two-month salary bonus for all government employees and retirees. Although such largesse is not unusual for newly crowned Saudi monarchs, Salman also granted all military and security personnel another month's bonus just last week, apparently for their efforts in the Yemen war -- itself a massive unplanned expenditure.
Also notable in Friday's announcement was the exclusion of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef (a.k.a. MbN) from the new Supreme Council. He does not sit on the Council of Economic and Development Affairs either, signaling that he will play little if any role in oil policy -- in contrast to MbS, who now holds posts on all three of the kingdom's main decisionmaking bodies, including the MbN-chaired Council of Political and Security Affairs. The new arrangements are yet another indication that Saudi government structures and political hierarchy are in a state of flux, and that MbS is poised to play a preponderant role in the future.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.

The threat of a well-oiled Iranian lobby
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya
I feel sad that, as a journalist who was born and raised in Lebanon, and whose journalistic career has taken me to almost all the world’s continents, I have only visited one border point between Lebanon and Israel: the Naqoura U.N. post.
However, friends and relatives who have visited the border area, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, used to tell me about the unfortunate and stark difference between what they saw on either side of the barbed-wired fence.
The land of occupied Galilee was green and well-tended by the Israeli Kibbutzim settlers, while the land on the Lebanese side was neglected and in bad shape for many reasons, including fear of cross-border attacks and the intentional lack of development under the sway of political feudalism.
But what used to interest the curious visitors most was how Israeli settlers always carried their sub-machine guns while taking care of their fields and farms. This, in my view—personal emotions aside—was pretty symbolic. It meant, and of course continues to mean, that if one is committed to building a homeland one needs to take care of all the aspects and never forsake one priority for another. In Israel, the famous Arab slogan “No voice is louder than the voice of battle” took hold. That slogan, as innocent and honorable as it was then, led to catastrophic consequences for the Arab world.
In fact, Israel has succeeded not only because it is a military powerhouse and is well supported by the West, but also because it is a country that has successfully defined its priorities. Israel has organized its priorities without abandoning anything: military efforts never meant economic development was neglected, and embarking on economic development took nothing away from paying attention to the media and propaganda machine, while providing resources for that machine was never at the expense of scientific research. As for us, Arabs, as well as Muslims, we must admit that we have failed for at least 60 years in building a homogeneous and effective lobby in the West, particularly in the U.S.
Among the principal reasons for this failure are the following:
— Lack of strategic vision that is based first and foremost on defining the aim, and then diagnosing the problems and defects.
— Individualism in carrying out work and “personalizing” this work. In any sophisticated society the desired results can only be achieved by dealing between institutions, individuals come and go while institutions remain.
— Short-term efforts while expecting speedy outcomes. In order to have the desired impact in a Western environment, one that is alien to our domestic culture and social concepts, we must have patience and undertake long-term planning.
— Ignorance of these environments, their nature and complexities. This ignorance means we have no chance of getting the message across. There is no alternative to knowledge and education.
The attacker

Today, Arabs in the West, more so in the U.S., are being subjected to an increasingly ruthless and complicated media onslaught, when compared to what they have previously experienced in their long struggle against Israel’s lobbies. This time their attacker is the Iranian lobby.
Iran’s lobby has been active for a while, and it has been intelligently working, organizing, and cooperating with several pressure groups. Its activities have varied from tempting multi-national commercial and industrial companies with the hidden riches of Iran—to be made available the moment U.N. sanctions are lifted—to pleading with human rights, progressive and liberal groups by highlighting the “suffering” of Iranian people under the international sanctions and world embargo.
There's been a long Arab struggle against Israeli lobbies. This time their attacker is the Iranian lobby
As if this is not enough, the Iran lobby is now busy engaging with anti-terrorism groups, of all people, after managing to re-define terrorism, and exonerate Tehran of accusations of sponsoring and aiding religious and sectarian extremism throughout the Middle East.
This lobby is currently quite happy with President Barack Obama’s foreign policy based on retreat from global hotspots, bringing the troops home and ending all kinds of foreign adventures. It is even happier that Washington has kept quiet about Iran’s expansionist and interventionist policies and activities throughout the region in the hope that this facilitates reaching an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Therefore, for a military-confessional state like Iran it would have been stupid not to take advantage of such a situation, bearing in mind its initial declared regional intention of “exporting the [Khomeinist] revolution.”
For some time, the Iranian lobby has been keen not to mention what Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been doing in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, preferring instead to focus on the “peaceful nature” of Iran’s nuclear program and the “suffering” of its people “as a result of sanctions” (rather than the nature and policies of the regime). However, the situation is now different. This lobby is now more sophisticated and skillful, to the extent that it has now managed to build a propaganda machine that has allowed it access even to mainstream, respectable U.S. media.
It is now more confident in moving forward in the service of Iran’s regime—not only its people—while still claiming it is not directly connected with the leadership. In this capacity it is recruiting far and wide. Central to its present campaign is re-defining terrorism, attaching it exclusively to extremist Sunnis groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda et al. This is being cleverly done after cleansing the West’s collective memories of the terrorism of the 1980s and 1990s, which saw many victims in Iran, Lebanon, Kenya, Tanzania, Europe, and throughout the world, that has always been supported and venerated by Tehran’s rulers.
At present Iran’s lobby describes what is happening in Yemen as nothing more than a “Saudi attack” or “Arab aggression,” without touching on the military arsenal Iran has supplied to the Houthi rebels and their accomplices since 2009, which has recently been uncovered, according to the latest U.N. reports. Its discourse also totally ignores Iran’s master-plan for hegemony in the region, which includes controlling international waterways like the Strait of Hormuz and Bab El-Mandeb. On the contrary, the glossy message this lobby—which now includes Americans, Europeans and Arabs, in addition to Iranians—is promoting is that Iran is a “natural ally” to the West and the U.S. in the ongoing fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and their ilk after confirming the exclusive Sunni nature of terror and terrorism.
We are now encountering a challenge that we can ill afford to underestimate.
We must not comfort ourselves with the thought that Iran’s poor economic conditions will convince the Tehran leadership to stop its meddling and aggression. This regime seriously believes it can fight, plan, arm and twist facts, all at the same time.

Iran's allies, Specially Hezbollah not atoms, preoccupy Israeli generals
Published: 06.05.15/ Israel News
Western diplomats believe the IDF is focused on Iran's proxies, particularly Hezbollah, as intelligence official says the Lebanese militia is the only entity that could launch surprise attack. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thunders against a looming Iranian nuclear deal, his defense chiefs see a more pressing menace from Tehran's guerrilla allies.
Chief among these is Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that fought Israeli forces to a stand-still in their 2006 war and has since expanded its arsenal and honed its skills helping Damascus battle the Syria insurgency. Ram Ben-Barak, director-general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry, accused Iran on Tuesday of "seeking footholds" from Syria to Yemen to Egypt's Sinai and the Palestinian territories. But he deemed Hezbollah a foe as formidable as the conventional Arab armies that clashed with Israel in the 1967 and 1973 wars.
"The only entity that can challenge us with a surprise attack on any scale nowadays is Hezbollah in Lebanon," Ben-Barak told a conference organized by the Israel Defense journal. Israel believes Hezbollah has more than 100,000 missiles capable of paralyzing its civilian infrastructure. Seeking to deter the guerrillas, Israeli generals have threatened to devastate Lebanon should there be another full-on conflict.
In the interim, Lebanese and Syrian sources report regular Israeli air force sorties as part of an apparent effort to monitor, and at times destroy, weapons transfers to Hezbollah. A Jan. 18 air strike that killed an Iranian general and several Hezbollah operatives in Syria's Golan Heights, north
An Iranian-backed Hezbollah presence in the Golan "will pose a very big problem for us in the future", Ben-Barak said. Two Western diplomats who track Israel's military assessed that it was now busiest securing the Lebanon and Syria borders. "I don't think anyone's looking for escalation, but the potential for this to spiral out of control is high," one diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
When Israel's military intelligence chief, Major-General Herzi Halevy, visited Washington in March, as world powers and Iran entered the final stretch of nuclear negotiations, he urged US care on inadvertently fuelling regional instability. "What he was really interested in getting across was the military threat from groups like Hezbollah, the (Tehran-backed) Houthis in Yemen, and the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) in Syria," one of Halevy's American hosts said.
Israel has condemned as insufficient a proposed nuclear deal, whose deadline is June 30, and under which Iran would scale down its disputed projects in return for sanctions relief.

Why Iran’s regime is nearing its sell-by date
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
As if it wasn’t contemptible enough that Iran’s ayatollahs have been oppressing religious and ethnic minorities ever since they took power in 1979, they are currently attempting to strangle the entire region with their medieval ideology. Worse, they have resorted to threatening neighbouring countries and funding terrorists and proxy militias to overturn governments.
The Quran stresses upon the unity of Muslims in numerous verses and the Hadith tells us that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, “Stay with the group (of righteous Muslims), for the wolf eats the sheep that strays away from the herd.” [Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi]
In essence, the ones issuing proclamations in Qom are acting in ways that are the very antithesis of the Quran’s edicts by fomenting divisions and sectarian hatreds, “And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Allah loves those who act justly.” [Surat Al-Ĥujurā 49:9]
The regime, created by Ayatollah Khomeini, was born out of a revolutionary climate and his own will to power. The inherently political Shiite Islam that claims to champion resistance against tyranny and subjugation was used by the Ayatollah Khomeini as a tool to attract the poor and the disenfranchised onto his bandwagon.
The irony is that there is no country on earth, with the exception of North Korea, which squashes its population underfoot, both politically and socially, while keeping over almost 11 million illiterate and 15 million struggling below the poverty line, in addition to 24 per cent of the country’s youth being unemployed.
Rowhani a moderate?
The late Iranian thinker and writer Ali Shariati described this trajectory perfectly relative to his homeland years before the West turned its back on the Shah, “A religious regime is one in which, instead of the political figures, religious figures take up political and governmental positions. In other words, a religious regime means the rule of the clerics. One natural consequence of such a regime is dictatorship, because the cleric views himself as God’s representative who carries out his orders on earth, and therefore, people have no right to express their opinions, or criticise and oppose him” He expressed his belief that under such a regime, followers of other religions are considered deviants from “the true path” whose oppression is “God’s justice”.
Iran’s aim to control Yemen, via the agency of Shiite Houthis, was thwarted by a Saudi-led Arab coalition
Shariati’s words turned out to be prophetic. Iran’s human rights record worsens year upon year. President Hassan Rowhani goes out of his way to present himself as a moderate reformist but statistics contradict his rhetoric. According to the United Nations, on Rowhani’s watch, executions have risen, women’s economic opportunities are diminishing and his government’s influence over the media, civil society, political organisations and the judiciary has expanded.
It is only a matter of time before the Iranian pressure cooker explodes. Eighty million human beings can only be trodden upon for so long before they rise up en masse. Many will be galvanised due to Iran’s repressive policies; others will react to the dire economic situation.
Signs are that more than 80 million Ahwazi Arabs are readying an uprising against Persian discrimination and economic neglect. Likewise, Turkmens, Baluchis, Kurds as well as Sunnis in the Iranian provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Khorasan and Sistan, are angry at being treated as second-class citizens. The internet and satellite television has afforded young Iranians a glimpse of what 21st century freedom looks like; they will soon rebel against subjugation.
Whether it takes one year or 10, the future of Iran will rest in the hands of peaceful Iranians seeking prosperity, not those arming and funding terrorists around the globe. These are the people the US, which never fails to trumpet its own values and works to export ‘democracy and freedom’, should be helping. Instead the Obama Administration may be about to sign a pact with the Mullahs in Iran, biding their time to turn the Middle East into a fireball as a precursor to what they believe will be the appearance of the 12th Imam (Al Mahdi Al Mountathar).
And one day, the veil will be lifted off the eyes of Lebanon’s Hezbollah supporters that turned this once peaceful Mediterranean haven into a paralyzed state operating under a democratic façade plagued by conflicts and internal violence.
Musa Al-Sadr is widely credited as being the Lebanese Shiite’s first power broker. Born in Qom, he became a cleric upon his coming to Lebanon when he wooed the underclass. In 1967, he headed the newly-founded Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, which set out to dominate Lebanon militarily, economically, politically and socially through the use of Shiite theology to politicise the Council’s goals.
In 1974, Al-Sadr launched a movement called the Harakat Al-Mahrumin (The Movement of the Deprived) that bore a militia (AMAL) a year later. Following his mysterious disappearance, Iran’s mullahs were quick to see an entrée into Lebanon on the pretext of resisting the 1982 Israeli invasion when Hezbollah came into being. However, an article published in the Weekly Standard titled ‘The Secret History of Hezbollah’ has a more accurate take. “It’s an Israel-centric myth that makes the Jewish state Hezbollah’s motivation and prime mover. In reality, the story of Hezbollah’s origins is a story about Iran, featuring the anti-shah revolutionaries, active in Lebanon in the 1970s years before Israel’s intervention… There we find that, contrary to the common wisdom, Hezbollah didn’t arise as a resistance movement to the Israeli occupation. Rather it was born from the struggle between Iranian revolutionary factions opposed to the Shah.”
Iran’s aim to control Yemen, via the agency of Shiite Houthis, was thwarted by a Saudi-led Arab coalition. Syria is close to being liberated from rule by the Alawite minority Shiite sect responsible for the death of over 200,000 Syrian citizens. Furthermore, Iraqi Shiite militias that take their marching orders from Tehran will not survive in the short-to-medium term. Those traitors to this great Arab country should flee to their true home, Iran, and the same goes for Iran’s conspirators in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab world.
No negotiating
Many Arab Shiites are mesmerized by Iranian propaganda, they should repent and be forgiven. But there must be no forgiveness for Hezbollah that’s crippled Lebanon for generations or for the leaders of the pro-Iranian Houthis in the pay of Tehran. There can be no pardon for Iraqi militias directed by Muqtada Al-Sadr or the pro-Iranian Badr Organization, headed by Hadi Al-Amiri, or the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by Ammar Al-Hakim. And Nouri Al Maliki, who gave those thugs free rein, should not get a free pass either. There can be no negotiations with anyone whose hands are blood-soaked, just a single address – the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Iran’s vision of a new Empire will not manifest. Arab states are coming together in an unprecedented way to slice its roaming tentacles and are increasingly wary of foreign allies seemingly engaged in playing a double-faced game. We Arabs want to live in peace and security. We don’t crave Empire but we will be our people’s rescuers and protectors of our faith and our culture.
Evidence is mounting that the mullahs and their terrorists are in for a mighty fall; their masks are off, their hypocrisy and lies cannot be hidden. I long for the day when those deceivers get their just reward. I pray for the day when we can reclaim our authority over our lands. And I believe deep in my heart and soul that those days of celebration won’t be long in coming.

Syria and the new regional borders of influence
Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
After hosting Iran’s nuclear talks, Switzerland readies itself to serve as the main ground for Syria’s fresh round of U.N.-sponsored talks. Russia has just announced that it will be participating in the May 14 consultations in the capital Geneva. The consultations will involve the Assad government, Syrian opposition, and other regional powers including Iran.
Now that all the major players have flexed their military and political muscles to an extreme, new power borders are being redrawn in the Middle East region. A defiant Russia in the face of international pressure, criticism and threats, happens to be one of the major beneficiaries of the latest deals and agreements. With that in the backdrop, Moscow seems keen on speeding up the diplomacy to find a solution to the embarrassing situation its ally Bashar al-Assad finds himself in. Four years of war, 220,000 people killed, 4 million refugees and 7.6 estimated displaced. Not to mention the rise and exacerbation of ISIS and Al-Nusra and the blunt build-up of Hezbollah militants as they got involved in the conflict.
Russia and China have used their veto power at the U.N. Security Council to prevent international sanctions against Syria and to prevent referring Assad to the ICC (International criminal Court) for suspected crimes against humanity. Moscow has expressed its hope for a political settlement although it is unclear what such a “settlement” would look like or at what price.
Four years of war, 220,000 people killed, 4 million refugees and 7.6 estimated displaced
In the game of politics nothing has been logical of late. Only the language of threat, defiance and unilateral actions has been successful in any talks from Iran, to Yemen. The fact that Russia has announced its participation at the upcoming “consultations” is perhaps indicative of the likely results.
The shuttle diplomacy by the U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in the coming weeks might also indicate who the significant players at the upcoming talks will be.
A few things are certain. Iran and Russia will play a major role in the consultations leading up to the talks as well as at the talks themselves. They will have to sign off on any agreement that will be reached. While this means that the Assad regime will certainly get the lion’s share of any agreement, it is questionable whether Assad himself will survive this impasse.
Either way, the fact that Assad’s allies have an upper hand at the consultations and the U.N. Security Council, will ensure he either remains in power, albeit weakened, or he gets an honorable exit.
If the borders of power and influence in the Middle East are being redrawn, a Syrian agreement of any sorts will be the territory upon which those new borders are likely to unfold first.

Obama, Iraqi Kurd leader, Massud Barzani meet at White House

AFP, Washington/Wednesday, 6 May 2015/U.S. President Barack Obama met the head of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region at the White House on Tuesday, courting a vital ally on the frontline of the fight against Islamic militants. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met Massud Barzani to discuss the campaign to regain Iraqi territory lost to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group. Barzani meeting with Obama. A U.S.-led coalition has carried out more than 3,000 air strikes over Iraq since September in a bid to dislodge the jihadists. On the ground, battle lines have been drawn in Anbar province and the northern city of Mosul, where Kurdish fighters are likely to play a key role in a looming offensive. The city, a short distance from the Kurdish capital Erbil, holds special significance for the Islamic State militants. It was there that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria. Some 4,000-6,000 Iraqis -- many of whom fled the ISIS capture of Mosul -- are now being trained in Iraqi Kurdistan for the upcoming battle to retake the city. In a statement, the White House said Obama “commended the bravery of the Kurdish peshmerga (forces).” But amid sensitivities over Kurdish self-rule, the White House did not allow the media to witness the meeting and said Obama “dropped by.” Barzani’s last visit to Washington dates back to April 2012.The meeting comes only weeks after a landmark visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The Kurdish leader is on a week-long visit which will also include talks on Wednesday with state department officials.

When Walid Jumblatt Speaks
Mshari Al-Zaydi/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 5 May, 2015
We know little about the circumstances surrounding the majority of present or past events, be they wars, treaties, detentions, assassinations, or states of concord and discord. The reason being that the main actors do not tell the reality of the roles they played, either to protect their interests, out of fear for themselves and their loved ones, or to conceal a secret whose exposure poses a threat. Whatever the reason may be, we have many versions of the same historical event; every narrative offers a new telling and a new perspective. This is not only the case with Arab and Muslim history, but with all human history. Nevertheless, because there is more transparency in the West than elsewhere, narratives of history and reality are richer there. At certain moments, perhaps when decades have passed, untold narratives become ripe to be told and revealed.
Today, we see the Lebanese political leader Walid Jumblatt give a historic testimony on the 2005 assassination of the late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in the Hague. A socialist statesman and pan-Arabist Druze leader, Jumblatt is characterized by his adaptability, and enjoys a profound sense of history and major events. At the start of his testimony, Jumblatt said he began a career in journalism working for the Lebanese An-Nahar newspaper before he was elected as the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) six weeks after his father Kamal was murdered in 1977. When his father founded the PSP in 1949, Jumblatt said: “He [Kamal] aspired to alter the sectarian-based political system in Lebanon but the sectarian circumstances in Lebanon were stronger.” Walid admitted: “I have failed to achieve Kamal Jumblatt’s dream and due to the circumstances our party [role] has shrunk to a limited Druze-dominated space.”
“My relationship with the Syrian regime began forty days after it assassinated Kamal Jumblatt in 1977,” he said. “In front of the conspiracy that threatened Lebanon, I had to sign a political deal with those who assassinated my father,” he added.
He went on: “During my first meeting with Bashar Al-Assad, Ghazi Kanaan [Syria’s former intelligence chief in Lebanon] told me: ‘I would like you to know who the Assads are.’ I did not give much importance to his words which I remembered well in late 2005 when Kanaan was forced to commit suicide.”Jumblatt’s familiarity with the Syrian regime was apparent as he emphasized “the liquidation of everyone who participated in the Hariri assassination operation.”He said: “Were Rustom Ghazaleh [Syria’s last military intelligence chief for Lebanon] summoned to the court, he would provide evidence about the assassination of Hariri,” adding, “Hikmat Al-Shihabi [former Syrian army chief of staff] warned me several times of the danger of the Syrian regime.”The Syrian security general Ghazaleh, who is accused of being involved in the Hariri assassination, was killed by the Syrian regime a few days ago. Over the past few days, there have been conflicting reports about the chief of the National Security Bureau Brig. Ali Mamluk being admitted to hospital in Damascus.
There are many in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf who have historic testimonies to give. How many Jumblatts will it take to reveal the conspiracies in our region over the past half century?