May 13/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Letter to the Philippians 04/01-07: "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Bible Quotation For Today/Lazarus, come out of the grave, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go
John 11/32-44: "When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 12-13/15
In Advance Of Obama-GCC Camp David Summit, Saudi Press Warns: Iran's Interference In Region Poses Greater Danger Than Iranian Nuclear Bomb/MEMRI/May 12/15
Legacy of terror: Hezbollah's Mughniyeh family/Roi Kais/Ynetnews/May 12/15
Analysis: Gulf states’ behavior against Obama administration unlikely to pay off /J.Post/May 12/15
Assuring Uneasy Gulf Allies at Camp David: The Military Dimension/Michael Eisenstadt/Washington Institute/May 12/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 12-13/15
STL contempt trial resumes 
US charges 4 after intercepting gun shipments to Lebanon
Hezbollah, Syrian army capture key Qalamoun posts 
Hezbollah takes key hilltop in Syria 
Future rips Hezbollah over Qalamoun offensive 
Future bloc rips Hezbollah over Qalamoun offensive
US charges 4 after intercepting gun shipments to Lebanon
Refugees must be relocated to Syria safe zones: Kanaan 
New model refugee camp set up in Bekaa Valley 
Hariri to seek Lebanon protection from Moscow 
MP: Half of people in Lebanon not Lebanese 
Abu Faour proposes solutions to hospital staff salary delays 
Naameh dump to be permanently shut July 17: environment minister
Basbous’ term to be extended
MP to announce initiative to break impasse

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 12-13/15
Guns fall silent as cease-fire begins in Yemen
Russia warns against steps harmful for relations with U.S.
Kremlin says no breakthrough at Putin-Kerry meeting
White House urges Iran to use United Nations hub for Yemen relief
Pakistani defector was key in Bin Laden operation: officials
Cuba, US can exchange envoys once Havana off terror list: Castro
Iran says its navy will protect aid ship heading to Yemen
Nusra vows to eradicate ISIS from Qalamoun 
Saudi-led strike on Sanaa killed 90 Monday
Syrian strike kills 20 in Aleppo: activists
US-Arab alignment shows strains before Camp David summit
Bombings in Iraqi capital kill at least 15 Shiite pilgrims
High Court allows Jerusalem Day march through Old City’s Muslim Quarter
Israel says unauthorized boats will be denied entry as Gaza flotillas begin again
Using Bedouins for anti-Israel propaganda
Israel buys 4 patrol ships from Germany
Germany rolls out red carpet for President Rivlin
Report claims thorough deception from White House on bin Laden raid
Controversial bill to expand cabinet passes hurdle in Knesset
US admits at UN: We crossed line on interrogating detainees
Once untouchable, Egypt's Sisi faces media attacks
Galloway sues Labor victor over 'voter fraud'

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Egypt: Underage Coptic girl abducted, Muslim neighbor suspected
Canada: Accused jihad mass murder plotter says, “I’m a simple Muslim”
Bangladesh: Muslims hack to death another atheist blogger
Duke Prof Bruce Lawrence: Pamela Geller a “free speech jihadi”
CNN: “Star Wars” is more Islamic than the Islamic State
UCLA Prof Khaled Abou El Fadl Condemns ISIS, But Does He Condemn Stealth Jihad?
Brooklyn: Muslims plead guilty to aiding jihad terror group al-Shabaab

Hariri to seek protection for Lebanon on Moscow visit
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star/12 May/15
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri begins an official visit to Moscow Wednesday in the latest of his regional and international trips aimed at shielding Lebanon from the repercussions of regional conflicts, Future officials said Monday.
During his visit, Hariri is scheduled to hold talks with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“The Moscow visit is part of Hariri’s flurry of regional and international activity aimed at protecting Lebanon from what is happening in the region, particularly the fire raging in neighboring Syria,” Future MP Atef Majdalani told The Daily Star.
“Hariri will seek Moscow’s help in sparing Lebanon any negative fallout as a result of Hezbollah’s intervention in the war in Syria,” he said. “Hariri will also seek Moscow’s support for the Lebanese state, especially military assistance to the Lebanese Army, to help it fight terrorism.”
In order for Lebanon to be able to face political and security challenges at home, Hariri will urge Russia, given its good ties with Iran, to facilitate the election of a Lebanese president, Majdalani said.
The Future Movement-led March 14 coalition has accused Iran of blocking the presidential election through its key ally, Hezbollah, and MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement. The two groups have been blamed for thwarting a quorum to elect a president with their consistent boycott of Parliament sessions since last April, thus plunging Lebanon in a yearlong vacuum.
“Hariri maintains friendships with various countries, particularly the decision-making states, including the Russian Federation,” Majdalani said. “His visit to the Russian Federation gains special significance at this critical time through which the region is passing.”
The Central News Agency, quoting sources close to Hariri, said the head of the Future Movement would concentrate in his talks with Russian officials on “salvaging Lebanon and its unique coexistence formula which is threatened with collapse as a result of sectarian extremism, reducing the repercussions of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon, [and the need for Russia] to make the necessary contacts with influential states to facilitate the election of a new Lebanese president.”
It quoted the sources as saying that Hariri would urge Russian officials to make more efforts to find a solution to the 4-year-old crisis in Syria, especially since Moscow had played an important role in this respect and hosted a conference for the Syrian opposition.
Moscow, along with the U.S., had also contributed toward reviving a political settlement to the Syrian conflict through the communique issued by the Geneva Conference before relations between the two countries soured over the Ukraine crisis, the sources said. They added that a solution to the Syrian crisis would provide the main passageway to resolve a host of Lebanese crises, a large part of which had resulted from the conflict in Syria.
It was not immediately clear whether Hariri would revive during his visit a 2010 arms grant from Moscow that would provide the Lebanese Army with helicopters and tanks. Hariri signed the military grant agreement during his official visit to Moscow as prime minister of Lebanon in November 2010. Under the deal, Moscow would provide the Lebanese Army with six helicopters and 77 tanks, as well as 1 million bullets and 37,000 shells of various calibers.
Hariri will be accompanied on his visit to Moscow by two political aides, former MPs Bassem Sabaa and Ghattas Khoury, and Nader Hariri, chief of Hariri’s staff.
The Moscow trip comes less than a month after Hariri ended a several-day visit to Washington during which he had talks with U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and members of the Congress. At the end of his U.S. visit, Hariri warned that Lebanon was threatened with a renewal of civil war unless the rival Lebanese factions acted to elect a president and fight religious extremism. Hariri had talks with French President Francois Hollande in Saudi Arabia last week. In the past few weeks, he had visited Qatar, Turkey and Egypt for talks on regional conflicts, particularly the Saudi-led military intervention against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Despite deep differences with Hezbollah over internal politics, Syria and Yemen, Hariri has pledged to carry on the dialogue with the party. He said the talks between the two rival parties that began last December have helped defuse sectarian tensions.

Future bloc rips Hezbollah over Qalamoun offensive
The Daily Star/May. 12, 2015 /BEIRUT: The Future bloc Tuesday denounced Hezbollah over its ongoing offensive against rebel groups in Syria's western Qalamoun region, insisting the Lebanese Army alone was responsible for protecting the country's borders. “Protecting Lebanon’s eastern and northern borders with Syria in the confrontation with militants... is the duty of the Lebanese Army and not the duty of any other group,” the bloc said in a statement released after its weekly meeting. Hezbollah’s engagement in the Qalamoun is a departure from national consensus and marks another attempt by the party to undermine the state’s jurisdiction over matters of war and peace, the bloc said. It reiterated its call on Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria and stop aiding the Syrian government in carrying out “daily massacres” against the Syrian people. The increasing number of Lebanese casualties in Syria as a result of Hezbollah’s intervention has caused “painful suffering” for segments of the Lebanese population, it added. Hezbollah and the Syrian army have been engaged in daily battles with a coalition of Nusra Front-led jihadi groups over the past week in the Qalamoun mountain range, which straddles Lebanon’s eastern border. They have made important gains in the fighting, driving militants from about a dozen outposts and several towns, including Assal al-Ward and Al-Juba. Shifting to domestic politics, the Future bloc said the election of a president would be the “only correct start” to reviving state institutions, renewing political life, forming a new Cabinet, achieving a new election law and holding parliamentary elections. The bloc also called on the state to adopt a 2015 draft budget that included the public wage hike bill. Lebanon has not had a public budget bill since 2005, and instead the Cabinet has annually approved spending without approval from Parliament. The draft budget should also cover development projects planned for the north Lebanon districts of Akkar and Minyeh- Dinnieh, the statement said. The development projects, valued at $500 million, are “necessary projects” which should be rightfully granted to these areas, it added.

MP: Half of people in Lebanon not Lebanese
Hasan Lakkis| The Daily Star/May. 12, 2015
BEIRUT: Just over half of the population living in Lebanon is not Lebanese, MP Ibrahim Kanaan said Monday during a seminar meant to tackle the Syrian refugee crisis. “The number of Lebanese residing in Lebanon doesn’t exceed 4 million, and is accompanied by 1,250,000 registered refugees and more than 500,000 Syrian nationals, who are either unregistered refugees or workers. Then there are about 400,000 Palestinian refugees,” said Kanaan, who was representing Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri during a seminar about the effects of the Syria crisis in Lebanon. “Fifty-five percent of the population of Lebanon is not Lebanese, this by itself constitutes a demographic imbalance and a factor for instability,” Kanaan said. The seminar was organized by Parliament in collaboration with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. The conference came as part of the World Bank's Country Partnership Framework (CPF) that will take place from 2016-2021 with the aim of helping Lebanon combat the social and economic impacts stemming from the Syrian crisis. The partnership also focuses on developmental projects specific to Lebanon.
The CPF is a business plan guiding the World Bank’s development interventions in Lebanon for the fiscal years 2016 through 2021 that is being prepared through discussions with the government, parliament, civil society, the private sector and stakeholders at large.
Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank’s country director for the Middle East, along with numerous lawmakers and members of civil society attended the event.
Lebanon has been the primary destination for Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country since the conflict began in March 2011.
But Lebanon is not only threatened by Syrian refugees, Kanaan said. The presence of Palestinian refugees distributed in camps across the country was also playing a destabilizing role. In all, with elements of the Syrian and Palestinian presence in Lebanon potentially armed, paired with the uncertain future of Syria, internal political and sectarian divisions plaguing the country and the government’s limited financial and security capabilities, the refugees have become a burden to Lebanon.
“Lebanon’s infrastructure is also unable to absorb the high number of refugees and provide for their needs, which is actually pushing more and more Lebanese to emigrate and creates a greater demographic imbalance,” he said.
Kanaan acknowledged that the international community plays a vital role in helping Lebanon confront this crisis. However, he said such efforts would not fully protect Lebanon in the absence of a project that would relocate Syrian refugees to safe areas inside Syria.
The MP stressed the need for the projects that would strengthen local authorities in host communities. Municipalities are in direct contact with refugees and this is why supporting them is critical, Kanaan said in a news conference with Belhaj after the seminar.
“We know of a project underway worth $10 million in funding for the north and Bekaa Valley municipalities,” Kanaan said, expressing hope that after Monday’s workshop the funding would increase to cover different Lebanese areas affected by the refugee crisis.
Belhaj said that the conference was a vital platform to exchange ideas and listen to what Parliament has to say about the cooperation strategy between the World Bank and Lebanon.
“This strategy is linked to the Syrian situation and its impacts on Lebanon,” he said during the news conference. “This is why we move forward in financing various projects to support the municipalities that are being subjected to demographic pressures on infrastructure, sewage systems and health and education services as a result of the Syrian influx.” Belhaj said the World Bank would increase financing for municipalities, adding that the other part of their strategy focuses on developing Lebanon’s socioeconomic strategies.

Naameh dump to be permanently shut July 17: environment minister
The Daily Star/May. 12, 2015/BEIRUT: The Naameh waste landfill, long reviled by locals and the environmental community, will shut down July 17, about 18 years after its initial start, the environment minister announced Tuesday. “The Naameh landfill will close July 17,” Mohammad Machnouk told the mayors of Al-Shahar Al-Gharbi municipalities in Mount Lebanon. He said the dump will be replaced by a green garden, and the landfill's gases will be used to generate electricity to neighboring towns. The Naameh landfill was originally opened in 1997 to serve the Beirut and Mount Lebanon region. It was intended to close after six years. The landfill now receives 2,850 tons of waste a day, five times its intended capacity. It was originally set to close on Jan. 17, but the deadline was extended.

US-Arab alignment shows strains before Camp David summit
By MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/05/12/2015
WASHINGTON -- ​Displeased with Washington's dealings with Iran, with an emerging deal over its nuclear program and with US security proposals to Gulf Arab nations, Saudi Arabia's King Salman will skip a major summit in Washington this week, as will the leaders of three other Gulf nations.The summit— at the White House and Camp David on Wednesday and Thursday— was organized with the very purpose of assuaging Gulf concerns with shifting US policy in the Middle East toward cooperation with Iran. In meetings just last week in Riyadh and Paris, Salman and his deputies had assured US Secretary of State John Kerry of his attendance at the summit, prompting a public White House announcement to that effect over the weekend. The White House said on Monday that Salman had confirmed his attendance before pulling out, for reasons, they said, entirely unrelated to the contents of the summit. Salman has not left his kingdom since assuming the crown five months ago upon the death of King Abdullah. According to state-run Saudi press, Salman must remain in the country to manage a brief humanitarian ceasefire with the Houthis in Yemen; He will instead send his two heirs, interior minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and defense minister Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Privately, White House officials acknowledge unresolved tensions with Riyadh over an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, which seeks to cap, restrict, monitor and partially roll back Tehran's nuclear work for a finite period in exchange for sanctions relief. Concerned the deal with empower Iran and its activities across the region, Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council are seeking concrete security guarantees that will guard against Iranian aggression. Proposals for a coordinated security structure across GCC states— Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates— have been in the works at the political directors level for several weeks. This week's Camp David summit was meant to be a discussion of those proposals among the principals: US President Barack Obama, alongside King Salman and the heads of each Gulf state in the union. But just days before the summit, all but two leaders, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, had declined the president's invitation. Oman's prime minister and crown princes from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi will all attend in their leaders' stead. The GCC reportedly seeks advanced weapons systems and contract offers, while the US seeks agreement on a broad structural defense design that would efficiently coordinate Gulf maritime, counterterrorism, air and anti-missile systems. Political agreement among the nations would then lay the foundation for weapons sales, according to US officials. The Obama administration has long advocated for a missile defense system across the region, his aides point out. The summit is intended to expand the scope of US security guarantees to its Arab allies beyond that single portfolio. The summit will begin with a dinner at the White House before moving to the president's retreat at Camp David, Maryland, host of several international summits in the past. Obama last hosted foreign leadership at the camp in 2012.

Once untouchable, Egypt's Sisi faces media attacks
By REUTERS/05/11/2015
Egyptian newspapers are publishing what would have been unthinkable when then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013: suggestions that he is fallible. It is a sign that a man who enjoys cult-like support may be starting to lose some popularity as elected president. Sisi has boosted his regional status by helping Saudi Arabia wage war against Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen and spearheading an initiative to create a joint Arab force to fight Islamic State.
In Egypt, where street protests have removed two presidents since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, he is still popular. But signs of discontent are slowly emerging. Egyptians await delivery on many promises, ranging from a better school system to improved health care in the Arab world's most populous country, where many are mired in poverty. The pro-government Al-Watan newspaper has run exposes on the obstacles in the way of Sisi's reform plan.
It has highlighted that the military and political elite still dominate Egypt, a strategic U.S. ally. Al Watan has identified factors undermining Sisi, including corruption and nepotism. It has criticized what it said were violations committed by police forces. Sisi overthrew the Islamist Mohamed Mursi, Egypt's first freely-elected president, after mass protests against his Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, and then mounted a tough crackdown.
Security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters, jailed thousands of others and then went after liberal activists. Egypt says the Brotherhood is a terrorist group that poses a threat to its national security. The Interior Ministry denies allegations of widespread human rights abuses. An economic newspaper, Al Bursa, ran a story with the headline: "Why is the government moving at the speed of a turtle?" and said the prime minister had to do more to produce results.
Another newspaper, al-Masriyoon, ran an opinion piece with the headline: "Egypt in need of early presidential elections." The author, Gamal Sultan, wrote that Sisi's tenure had "moved Egypt further away from stability and put the entire nation on the brink of danger".Sisi, former head of military intelligence, has announced mega-projects such as a second Suez Canal and a new capital, recalling some of the grand national programs of one of his predecessors, strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser.
He has also embarked on a politically-sensitive reform program, including subsidy cuts, seen as far more successful than past efforts to loosen the state's domination of the economy. Sisi has won the backing of foreign investors and the International Monetary Fund. A high-profile investment conference in March secured new pledges of billions of dollars from Cairo's Gulf Arab allies. But some Egyptians say they have yet to feel tangible improvements to their standard of living.
"What reforms? The only thing I can see that he has done is to make fuel more expensive," said Sarah Mahmoud, 35, a Cairo pharmacist. Some have suggested the criticisms of Sisi in the media have been planted to create a false impression of freedom of the press, in a country that human rights groups say is crushing real dissent. "It is impossible that all the media figures who once defended him and his government, night and day, would suddenly turn against him," said an Egyptian man who declined to be named in al-Minya province. It was not immediately possible to reach the presidency for comment. Ibrahim Eissa, a prominent commentator and editor, said Sisi had to realize he was under scrutiny. "An elected president is always being monitored and is accountable under the eye of the people and public opinion," he said on a talk show. For some, such as 37-year-old lawyer Osama Hassan, Sisi can still do no wrong. "I reject the attack on President Sisi in this manner in the media. The country will not stand on its own two feet in a night and a day, especially since he took over the country when it was suffering from collapse."

Legacy of terror: Hezbollah's Mughniyeh family
Eldest son of assassinated Imad Mughniyeh is considered to be the next rising figure in Hezbollah and his lacking public appearances seem to only bolster the suspicion.
Roi Kais/Published: 05.12.15,/ Israel News /Ynetnews
Imad Mughniyeh, the former commander of Hezbollah's military wing, was killed in 2008 in Damascus, his son Jihad was killed several months ago in an alleged Israeli strike in Quneitra and his cousin Marwan was killed just a few days ago during battles in the Qalamoun region in Syria. However, as it turns out, this was not the last the world would hear of the Mughniyeh family - Mustafa, another son of Imad, is now considered a rising figure in the Hezbollah organization.
Last weekend, Syrian opposition sources said that Imad Mughniyeh's cousin, Marwan Mughniyeh, was killed along with eight other operatives in fierce battles taking place in the Qalamoun region. Marwan, it was reported, had been in charge of a special Hezbollah unit operating on Syrian territory, apparently as part of the Radwan force, a special operations unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Although the focus last weekend was on Marwan Mughniyeh, indications recently emerged that an additional family member has been branded as an up-and-coming figure in the organization - Mustafa Mughniyeh. Unlike his brother Jihad, the 27-year-old Mustafa has remained far from the spotlight. Intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon has researched Hezbollah's intelligence and security apparatuses and has been following the actions of Mughniyeh's eldest son, said Mustafa has barely been mentioned in the media before.
"The 1980's were the years when Mughniyeh spent time at a Quds Force camp near Tehran," Solomon said.
"At the time, he was pursued by foreign intelligence services after he stood behind deadly terror attacks against Western and Israeli targets, which claimed the lives of hundreds of people. In 1982, Mughniyeh opened a security guard company in Lebanon and married his cousin Saadi Badr Al Din – the sister of Mustafa Badr Al Din, who was appointed Hezbollah's military commander. In 1984, their first daughter, Fatima, was born," Solomon told Ynet.
During those years, Mughniyeh had tried to secure the release of his brother-in-law Mustafa Badr Al Din, who was arrested following the attack on the American Embassy in Kuwait in 1983.
"In January 1987, when Mustafa was still in jail in Kuwait, Imad Mugniyeh's eldest son was born. He named him Mustafa, after his wife's brother – it's clear this wasn't a coincidence," Solomon said.
"During that same year, Mughniyeh senior's parents came for a visit in Teheran and were photographed with the whole family, apparently to mark Mustafa's birthday, who was born that year. (Mustafa) was not included in the picture and until today there is not one single photo of him," he added.
A year later, Badr Al Din managed to get out of jail in Kuwait and arrived at the Iranian Embassy, while taking advantage of the chaos following the invasion of Kuwait by then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussain.
According to Solomon's investigation, while Mughniyeh senior was in charge of Hezbollah's military and operational activities, Mustafa had been training in Iran: "In 2005, he was 18 years old – the age when one completes basic military training in Hezbollah and is sent to specialize in a certain field. At the same time, Mustafa began joining his father on operational missions, and hence received an informal education.
"Meanwhile, the relationship between Mustafa Mughniyeh's mother, Saadi, and her brother, Mustafa Badr Al Din was maintained at all times. Proof for that is shown in the findings from the investigation on the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, which included documentation of thousands of conversations between the two. The history of their relationship ended up playing an important role after Imad Mughniyeh's assassination."
After the death of Mughniyeh senior, an interesting process began to unfold. As Jihad Mughniyeh, the youngest son, was becoming more publicly known, the oldest son Mustafa continued to stay a mystery, with few mentions in the media.
A few months after the assassination of Mughniyeh senior, it was reported that Mustafa became a father to a son in Beirut who they named Imad after his deceased grandfather.
Four years later, during a broadcast by the Lebanese satellite TV station Al Manar in honor of the anniversary of Mughniyeh's death, Mustafa's son was interviewed wearing a military uniform. Imad junior was accompanied by the parents of Imad Mughniyeh senior, but his father Mustafa was nowhere to be seen.
Ibrahim Al-Amin, an editor of a Hezbollah journal, said in January that the rest of the family had expected Mustafa, the eldest son, to publicly announce his father Imad's death. However, Mustafa answered that he was not the right man for the task and instead the task fell on young Jihad, who, up until then, was taken less seriously compared to Mustafa.
"Nobody expected that he would go out in public like a man (he was 18 at the time)," wrote Al-Iman in his article. His appearance can indicate the potential the rest of the family saw in Jihad, who was recruited into Hezbollah operations shortly afterward.
"Unlike his father and Mustafa, everyone knew Jihad Mughniyeh. They gave him positions related to security, which is part of the Mughniyeh family's genetic makeup," says Solomon. Meanwhile, Mustafa became the protégé son and confidant of his father's successor, his uncle Mustafa Badr Al Din, for whom Mustafa he was named after. Mustafa Mughniyeh is mentioned as having a role in coordinating the movements of Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon, Syria and Iran, and entrusted with their personal security. Furthermore, he is said to provide vehicles for his uncle Badr Al Din and his personal security.
"Mustafa Mughniyeh the son got involved with Badr Al Din's security apparatus which deals more with securing operations," Solomon said. "As history shows, whoever went up the ladder to participate in secret Hezbollah operations, first held positions related to the personal security of various key members of the organization. It can be presumed that Mustafa's identity has been kept mysterious, as opposed to his brother, to ensure that in the future he will be included in secret missions, such as those carried out by the 910 unit (Hezbollah's unit in charge of overseas attacks), led by his uncle Mustafa Badr Al Din." In August 2011, Mustafa's name emerged in connection to a mysterious explosion that took place in a southern suburb of Beirut, known as a Hezbollah stronghold. In the beginning, it was reported that the explosion was intended to target Samir Kuntar - a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, who was convicted of murdering the Israeli Haran family in a terrorist attack in 1979.
Later on, it was believed that it was actually Mustafa Mughniyeh who had been the target of the explosion. The building that was blown up was used by Mughniyeh as an office. The explosion resulted in the death of Mustafa's security guard and another individual was wounded. During that time, Hezbollah began to believe that a foreign agent had infiltrated their security apparatus and that Mustafa Mughniyeh's name had been leaked along with several other Hezbollah members. It is possible that the foreign agent who had operated against the organization was high-ranking Hezbollah official Mohammad Shorba - who is now known to have worked with the Mossad and CIA during those years. Unlike the close ties between Mustafa Mughniyeh and his uncle Mustafa Badr Al Din, Imad Mughniyeh senior had a shaky relationship with his brother-in-law, primarily due to reasons circulating around Imad's first wife Saadi - Badr Al Din's sister. According to the rumors, Saadi was upset when Imad married his second wife, an Iranian woman named Wafa. While Mustafa is still rarely heard of or seen in the media - he was last mentioned to have been treated at a Hezbollah-associated hospital in Beirut for a blood disease - he is still considered to be the next rising Mughniyeh family member.

Analysis: Gulf states’ behavior against Obama administration unlikely to pay off

By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/J.Post/05/12/2015
Saudi King Salman and most of the other Gulf state leaders are not going to show up for the Camp David summit on Thursday in what is being described as a snub because of the Obama administration’s outreach to Shi’ite rival Iran. Gulf leaders have a tendency of showing their displeasure passive-aggressively towards the US – indirectly through their state owned media or by other individuals close to their regimes that are quoted in the Western press. This comes in contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of his government that have come out vocally, directly criticizing US President Barack Obama administration’s policy on Iran and the recently signed nuclear framework agreement. Yet, in other ways, Netanyahu has gone out of his way to be diplomatic with the Obama administration, never rejecting an invitation and making a point to commend the US for its ongoing support. Still, manifestations of Saudi and Israeli unhappiness with US policy toward Iran have not brought about any major changes in its strategy, but mainly rhetorical support and pledges for more military aid. Riyadh announced the monarch’s no-show on Sunday, only two days after the White House had said he would attend the summit of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Some diplomats in the region believe the absence from Camp David of King Salman and close ally King Hamad of Bahrain, host of the US Fifth Fleet, may backfire. A Saudi decision in 2013 to vacate a seat on the United Nations Security Council that it had spent years seeking, followed by a leak of angry comments about Washington by then spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, failed to change US policy. “Of course it [Salman’s non-appearance] is a snub. But I don’t think Obama is going to put up with this. He wants the nuclear deal. It is the number one priority,” said a Western diplomat based in the region. The no-show by so many leaders is “certainly a slight and may affect what they get,” David Andrew Weinberg, a specialist on Gulf affairs and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
He emphasized, however, that the Saudi decision likely indicates that they already were disappointed with what Washington was putting on the table. The GCC states are definitely going to be getting more arms since this is part of the Obama administration’s strategy of seeking to balance off its rapprochement with Iran, said Weinberg. “The word on the street is that something occurred over the last few days that disappointed the Saudi king and led to his cancellation,” he said. The Bahraini king’s decision to stay home, which was also announced on Sunday, bolsters this impression, Weinberg added. However, when asked about how Gulf behavior differs from that of Netanyahu, Weinberg said that the Gulf states for the most part resisted the Iranian framework agreement behind closed doors while the Israelis criticized it directly. **Reuters contributed to this report.

 Assuring Uneasy Gulf Allies at Camp David: The Military Dimension
Michael Eisenstadt/Washington Institute
May 7, 2015
The United States will need to supplement its traditional approach of focusing on arms transfers, military presence, and redlines with a commitment to push back against Iranian regional influence.
The high-level summit next week with leaders of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates -- is expected to focus on winning their support for the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran. Washington is reportedly considering new arms sales and joint exercises among other measures to assure its uneasy allies, while at least some of the GCC states may request a formal, NATO-like collective defense agreement that would commit the United States to defending them if they are attacked.
Yet a review of past efforts to assure these allies shows that the steps reportedly under consideration are likely insufficient to assuage GCC fears regarding Iran's expanding influence and growing assertiveness in the region. This is the central concern of Gulf leaders, who worry that Iran would use funds obtained through sanctions relief, and eventually nuclear weapons, to advance its regional agenda.
In recent years, the United States has sold tens of billions of dollars in arms to its Gulf Arab allies (including missile defenses, attack helicopters, and strike aircraft), and helped them build up their cyberdefenses following Iranian cyberattacks. The intent has been to assure them by enhancing their ability to deter and counter external aggression, while convincing Tehran that its nuclear program will harm, rather than enhance, its security.
Yet Tehran is unlikely to engage in the kind of conventional aggression that would provide its neighbors (and the United States) with reason to respond by conventional means. It is much more likely to engage in subversion and proxy warfare, as it has done in the past and continues to do today. For example, the GCC states emphasize Tehran's role in the slaughter of Sunni Arab civilians in Iraq and Syria, and in stoking sectarian violence in the region, which (combined with past U.S. inaction) has enabled groups such as al-Qaeda and the "Islamic State"/ISIS to present themselves as the defenders of the Sunnis. By contrast, President Obama emphasized the following in an April 5 interview with Thomas Friedman: "The biggest threats that [our Sunni Arab allies] face may not be coming from Iran invading. It's going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries." Moreover, in light of the administration's announced "rebalance to Asia" and the president's statement in the Friedman interview that "the U.S.'s core interests in the region are not oil," GCC leaders may view large U.S. arms sales less as a tangible expression of enduring commitment than a sign that America is providing its friends with the means to fend for themselves as it prepares to leave the region.
While the United States has drawn down its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, it has increased other aspects of its presence around the Gulf as part of efforts to assure allies and deter Iran. For instance, it has been building up its missile defenses in the region since 2006, with more than two battalions of Patriot PAC-2/3 missiles deployed in four countries, two to three Aegis ships in the Persian Gulf, and AN/TPY-2 X-band radars in Israel, Turkey, and Qatar. The U.S. Navy also keeps at least one aircraft carrier in the area, and the deployment of F-22 stealth fighters there has become routine. At the same time, American naval forces have worked to enhance their ability to deal with Iran's anti-access/area-denial capabilities.
Yet there is no sign that the large post-1991 U.S. military presence in the Gulf has deterred Iran from using proxies to target U.S. interests in the region or elsewhere. During this period, Tehran caused the death of nineteen U.S. airmen in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, provided arms to Shiite "special groups'' that killed hundreds of U.S. service members in Iraq, and plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2011. Nor has it deterred Iran from intervening in regional conflicts in ways that have exacerbated sectarian tensions, threatened the security of U.S. allies, and increased its influence in the region. In short, while the U.S. presence ensures freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, it has not deterred Iran from pursuing a strategy of proxy warfare that poses a major challenge to regional stability.
GCC allies are frequently reminded that America continues to maintain some 35,000 service members in the region, but this has led them to question the purpose of such a large forward presence -- especially at a time when Iran and Hezbollah's intervention has contributed to the death of more than 200,000 Syrians, mostly Sunni civilians, amid U.S. inaction. And even when Washington finally did act against ISIS, it did so at least initially on behalf of beleaguered Iraqi minorities (Yazidis in Sinjar, Turkmens at Amerli, and Kurds in Erbil) rather than Sunni Arabs.
Washington has drawn various redlines concerning Iran's nuclear program; in January 2012, for example, President Obama declared that if Tehran tried to build a nuclear weapon, the United States would use every means at its disposal to prevent it from doing so. The warning came, however, after Tehran had crossed at least a half dozen previous U.S. redlines in order to become a nuclear threshold state. It also followed the president's August 2012 redline concerning chemical weapons use in Syria, which he subsequently failed to enforce when the Assad regime crossed it a year later.
Since his January 2012 warning to Iran, the president has tended to couch his threats in passive language that conveys more ambivalence than resolve, to allies and adversaries alike. In a March 2012 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, he stated, "I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But...when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons, we mean what we say." He struck a similar tone in last month's interview with Friedman, stating that if Iran does not change as a result of U.S. efforts to engage it, "our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place. We're not relinquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn't we test it?"
Thus, the U.S. redline gave Tehran the latitude it needed to become a nuclear threshold state. While this may not be an existential concern to the United States given its vast military advantages, from the point of view of America's regional partners it is a game-changing development that has significantly altered Middle Eastern power dynamics.
The Obama administration is also looking for ways to formalize the U.S. commitment to its Gulf partners. The president emphasized this point in the Friedman interview: "When it comes to external aggression, I think we're going to be there for our [Arab] friends -- and I want to see how we can formalize that a little bit more than we currently have."
Accordingly, at next week's summit some Gulf states are expected to seek security guarantees along the lines of Article V of the 1949 Washington Treaty, the legal basis for the collective security arrangements that underpin the NATO alliance. Article V states that "an armed attack against one or more [parties to the treaty] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all," and that "each of them" will take "such actions as it deems restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area." It should be noted that the article only covers attacks in Europe and North America, and gives each member significant latitude in choosing how to respond.
Congress would probably not approve a treaty that could draw the United States further into the region's numerous conflicts. And an executive agreement would not be particularly reassuring, since the language would almost certainly be sufficiently vague as to have little practical value. The 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which provided vague assurances to Ukraine in return for it giving up nuclear weapons inherited from the former Soviet Union, is a glaring example of the shortcomings of such an agreement given Russia's recent intervention by proxy there.
Moreover, Tehran's reliance on subversion and proxy warfare (and, more recently, offensive cyber operations) would likely complicate efforts to respond to a perceived act of Iranian aggression -- as would the tendency of some U.S. Gulf allies to see Iranian hands behind almost every event in the region.
The United States currently has a credibility deficit that threatens its interests and endangers its allies. Thus far, the steps it has taken to assure GCC allies -- arms transfers, forward presence, and redlines -- have often failed to allay their doubts, and frequently compounded their fears. Only by pushing back against Iran's efforts to expand its regional influence can Washington hope to restore its credibility. To this end, the United States should do the following:
Ramp up support for the opposition in Syria.
More proactively interdict Iran's arms shipments to allies and proxies in the region.
Strengthen support for those partners engaged in conflicts with Tehran's allies and proxies.
Supplement routine defensive exercises with exercises rehearsing long-range offensive strike operations in the Gulf.
Tend to and sharpen redlines regarding Iran's nuclear program to more clearly spell out the price Tehran would pay if it attempts a breakout.
There is no reason that such a policy cannot go hand-in-hand with engaging Iran, just as the United States pushed back against Soviet aggression while engaging Moscow during the Cold War. For as much as it may be in the American interest to conclude a long-term nuclear accord with Tehran, it is also a U.S. interest to curb Iranian activities that fuel sectarian violence, contribute to the appeal of groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and ultimately threaten the stability and security of U.S. allies in the region. Such a policy would also go a long way toward repairing ties with traditional allies in a part of the world that still matters very much.
**Michael Eisenstadt is the Kahn Fellow and director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute.

In Advance Of Obama-GCC Camp David Summit, Saudi Press Warns: Iran's Interference In Region Poses Greater Danger Than Iranian Nuclear Bomb
MEMRI/May 12, 2015 Special Dispatch No.6047
May 14, 2015 is the date set for the summit at Camp David between U.S. President Barack Obama and heads of state of the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, and Oman. A meeting at the White House with President Obama and the conferees is planned for the preceding day, May 13.
The objective of the Camp David summit, as announced several weeks ago, is to reassure the GCC countries about the nuclear agreement slated to be signed with Iran next month, as well as to discuss tighter U.S.-Gulf security cooperation.[1] In advance of the summit, the GCC held several preparatory meetings at various diplomatic levels, including: an April 20 meeting of GCC foreign ministers; a May 4 summit of GCC heads of state which was attended also by French President François Hollande; a May 7 meeting in Riyadh of Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir and his U.S. counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry; and a May 8 meeting in Paris of all the GCC foreign ministers and Kerry.
However, on May 9, Saudi Arabia announced that Saudi King Salman would not be at the Camp David summit as planned, and that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would be participating in his stead. Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir explained that the monarch would not attend because he had to stay home to ensure peace and security in Yemen and to oversee the arrival of humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people.[2]
Later, it was reported that the Bahraini king, the UAE president, and the Sultan of Oman would also not be attending the summit, sending representatives instead. As of this writing, the Emirs of Kuwait and Qatar are the only GCC heads of state who are planning to attend.
The downgrade of the level of representation at the summit appears to constitute a message to the U.S. that Saudi Arabia and the other GCC member countries were not pleased with the preliminary talks with Secretary of State Kerry, and also that they were disappointed at what the summit would achieve. According to a May 2, 2015 New York Times report, the Saudis had even then hinted that they would downgrade their representation if they felt that the summit was not going to produce results that conformed to their expectations.[3]
In fact, Arab press reports that preceded the announcement of downgraded representation pointed to what the GCC countries were demanding from the U.S., as well as to dissatisfaction on their part. At the May 4 summit of GCC heads of state with Hollande, Saudi King Salman called on the international community, especially the P5+1 that is negotiating with Iran, to "set stricter rules that guarantee the region's security and prevent it from plunging into an arms race." The king also stipulated that any final agreement with Iran must include unambiguous security guarantees.[4] Additionally, on May 7, UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba announced that the GCC would demand from the U.S. guarantees in writing that the latter would defend it from Iran.[5] Likewise, on May 9, the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat reported that even at the May 8 meeting with Kerry, the GCC foreign ministers had demanded U.S. guarantees that their countries would have military superiority over Iran.[6] also reported, on May 9, that the Gulf heads of state, headed by the Saudi monarch, would not settle for aid, military contracts, and defense systems provided by the U.S., but that they were seeking "clear, honest, and practical clarification, by means of absolutely firm, long-term resolutions, that Iran would be prevented from actualizing its expansionist aspirations in the region and from developing nuclear weapons…" Elaph also reported that "the Gulf leaders are headed for confrontation with the American president, and they want answers and explanations about his positions on these burning issues…"[7]
On May 12, three days after the Saudis announced that King Salman would not be attending the summit, it was reported that President Obama and King Salman had spoken by phone about the preparations for the summit, and had discussed the agenda of the meetings that would take place during it.[8] Both the White House, in an announcement, and Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir, at a press conference, emphasized the continuing Saudi-U.S. partnership. According to the White House announcement, Obama and Salman had, in their phone conversation, "reviewed the agenda for the upcoming meetings" and had "agreed on the necessity of working closely, along with other GCC member states, to build a collective capacity to address more effectively the range of threats facing the region and to resolve regional conflicts." The two also discussed "the importance of a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran that verifiably ensures the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program" and "emphasized the strength of the two countries’ partnership, based on their shared interest and commitment to the stability and prosperity of the region, and agreed to continue... close consultations on a wide range of issues."[9] Also, at a Washington press conference, the Saudi foreign minister stressed that King Salman's "absence from the summit is not in any way connected to any disagreement between the two countries," adding, "We have no doubts about the U.S.'s commitment to Saudi and Gulf security. The U.S. will present the Gulf countries with a new level of cooperation that will meet the needs on the ground."[10]
At the same time, the Saudi press published numerous articles, including op-eds and editorials, fiercely attacking the Obama administration's Middle East policy, stating that it had repeatedly disappointed the Arab countries, in its positions on Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, and Iran. The articles accused the Obama administration of reinforcing Iran's power in the region – so much so that it was now threatening GCC interests – and claimed that it was not the Iranian nuclear bomb but Iran's imperialism in the region and Iran's interference in the affairs of the Arab countries that was the "real bomb threatening [the Arab countries'] security," and called on the U.S. to curb these. These articles focused on the demands that the GCC countries would be presenting to Obama at the summit, including that he change his policy towards Iran and "restore the regional balance," while at the same time he would undertake unprecedented security military cooperation with the GCC. The articles emphasized that "the Gulf countries no longer believe the U.S.'s promises and guarantees," and that they would now demand guarantees in writing. Some of the articles even warned that U.S.-GCC relations were now at a point of a grave, even critical crisis of confidence, and that the Camp David summit was a chance for the U.S. to prevent the collapse of its alliance with the GCC. If this alliance did fall apart, they said, U.S. interests in the region would suffer, and the smoldering regional conflict would erupt into a conflagration.
Below are translated excerpts from some of the articles:
GCC logo against backdrop of photo of Camp David sign. Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 12, 2015)
'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Editor: The Dissolution Of The U.S.-Gulf Alliance Will Harm U.S. Interests In The Region
Salman Al-Dosari, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, argued that the mutual trust between the US and the Gulf states had eroded to an extent that jeopardizes the alliance between them: "The upcoming Camp David summit may be the most important Gulf-U.S. meeting to take place in 50 years, [because] the U.S.-Gulf alliance is going through a phase of tension and a crisis of confidence… Washington is aware of this and it is no secret. Who knows, perhaps the summit will be an opportunity to put the train of this historic alliance back on the track from which it slipped in recent years. The summit will be an opportunity for the American administration to shift from talk to action, and quell the doubts in the region regarding its credibility, that has been put to the test [by a series of events,] starting with the Syrian crisis, continuing with [America's]feeble position on the events in Bahrain, Egypt and Iraq, and culminating in the nebulous and secret agreement that is expected to be signed with Iran…
"All [U.S.] institutions are aware of the negative repercussions for American interests that will ensue if the alliance with the Gulf States is dissolved. Naturally, the two parties do not have to be [perfectly] coordinated in their policies. However, it is unreasonable for U.S. policy to threaten the interests of the Gulf States, and later we [are bound to] discover that U.S. interests in the region have been harmed as well. This proves that Washington's policy in the region is completely misguided...
"President Obama undoubtedly has a clear plan that will translate American talk into action, as reflected in statements by a senior American official last Thursday, published in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, regarding 'unprecedented military cooperation' that will be revealed at the Camp David summit. It is also important that the U.S. give [the Gulf States] its assurances in writing… Only by such actions can the U.S. restore the cordiality to its relations with the Gulf States and truly demonstrate that the final nuclear agreement expected to be signed [with Iran] will not include ambiguous meanings and unclear details.
"The US wants to kill two birds with one stone, [namely achieve] excellent relations with the Gulf States and with Iran simultaneously. This equation is unacceptable, not because the Gulf States hate [Iran], but because the Iranian regime is predicated on hostility to its neighbors in the Arabian Gulf, and its entire policy is geared towards intervening in their internal affairs. This is the entire story, honorable President Barack Obama."[11]
Al-Hayat Editor: U.S. Hesitation At Camp David Will Cause The Regional Conflict To Erupt
Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, wrote: "The U.S. is not interested in playing the role of the Middle East's policeman. It does not wish to squander additional billions [of dollars] and blood. However, it certainly cannot wash its hands of the fate of this region of the world – not just because [it seeks to preserve] the security of oil and of Israel, but also for the sake of the security of the U.S. and the West. Experience teaches us that Middle East diseases are contagious, and that the terrorism that is taking root there threatens the safety of New York, Washington, Paris, Berlin, and so on.
"It would be no exaggeration to say that the U.S.-Gulf summit at Camp David creates an unusual encounter that will leave its mark on the fate of the Middle East for years or [even] decades to come. The summit demands more than just dispersing [messages of] reconciliation and calm [to alleviate Gulf fears]. The situation is too grave to be treated with painkillers and hopes. The framework of a new regional order must be outlined; [such an order] must restore the necessary balance and provide safety valves to stop the chain of collapses, coups, and infiltrations [of foreign elements]. It is clear that the Iranian specter will be at the summit, bearing two bombs [that is, both nuclear bomb and the bomb represented by the regional role that Iran is seeking]...
"The problem that the GCC countries have with Iran does not end with Iran's nuclear program. The GCC countries maintain that Iran's current interference... is the real bomb threatening the security of the GCC countries, and [also] threatening the stability and status of the Arabs in the region. Therefore, what the Gulf is demanding at Camp David is measures to curb Iran's involvement in the region, in addition to curbing its nuclear ambitions...
"It appears, therefore, that the Camp David summit must clarify the American position vis-à-vis the two Iranian 'bombs' – the first being the nuclear program, and the second being the regional role [that Iran covets]. The GCC is against the view that an agreement concerning the first bomb is a character reference providing it with what it needs in order to protect and expand the second bomb. This goes beyond the issue of missile defense [to be provided by the U.S. to] the Gulf countries, and beyond providing it with a deterrent arsenal, and has to do with the U.S.'s perception regarding its own interests in the next stage, how committed it is to its allies, and how serious it is in thwarting Iran's takeover of the region – as well as how [willing] it is to give [the Gulf countries] unequivocal [security] guarantees.
"It is impossible to establish a suitable regional order without first restoring balance to the region. The bomb of [the regional] role [for which Iran strives] contradicts the required balance, and the American hesitation to deal with it [i.e. with Iran] decisively and seriously will diminish the importance of the summit and increase the Gulf countries' apprehensions about Obama's 'Iran policy.' American hesitation will also cause the regional conflict to erupt, especially the Syrian link [in the chain]... That is, if the Camp David summit does not address these two bombs, it will add fuel to the alarming Middle East conflagration."[12]
'All-Hayat' Columnist: We No Longer Believe Obama's Promises; Saudi Arabia Has Alternatives To The U.S. – Such As China And France
George Sama'an, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, wrote about the U.S. president's dilemma, under the headline "Obama Stuck Between Losing Saudi Arabia and Stopping Iran's Expansion": "Iran. There is no other issue but Iran on the agenda of the U.S.-Gulf summit set for this week in Washington and Camp David. The [Iranian] nuclear program has worried, and continues to worry, the members of the GCC. In their meetings in Paris with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the GCC foreign ministers did not focus on technical clarifications related to the program nor on those related to the mechanism of economic sanctions. What they fear is the day after the anticipated agreement between Iran and the five superpowers and Germany.
"Like many who oppose the approach of the American dialogue [with Iran], they fear Iran's getting its hands on the region. [Iran] could gain from the lifting of the siege and of the sanctions on its frozen assets by continuing its regional expansionist program. Despite its [economic] distress, Iran has accelerated this expansionism, with brazen persistence. Its strategy relies on two main elements: the advanced, developed, and extensive arsenal of missiles in its possession, which are conventional weapons that are not subject to an international ban such as nuclear energy, and on continuing its expansion using its Shi'ite forces and militias in several Arab countries...
"The Gulf states are among the countries that no longer believe the promises and guarantees that the U.S. is providing these days. Obama has not kept any of the promises he made to the residents of the region since his speeches in Egypt and Turkey... The American indifference regarding the events in Iraq, for instance, left that country in Iran's hands, and this scenario has been repeated in all the countries of the Levant [i.e. Syria and Lebanon]. The Obama administration has made no serious attempts to arrive at an arrangement [to resolve] the Syria crisis, leaving that country in [the hands of] Tehran and Moscow... [Obama] also kept out of the events in Yemen prior to [Operation] Decisive Storm...
"[The U.S.'s] partners did not have the sense that it wanted to end Iran's lack of restraint and expansionism in the region, even if it led to damage to several Arab countries and their national unity. It [i.e. the U.S.] also did not do enough to address the conventional missile industry, at which Iran excels, possibly as a temporary substitute for the banned nuclear bomb...
"Today, the strategic arena is no longer solely in the hands of the U.S. and Iran. Arabs have a say and a policy [in them,] following Saudi Arabia's establishment of the new coalition... No matter how far overboard the U.S. goes in relying on its future relations with Iran and on [Iran's] role in the stability of the region, it can no longer ignore the positions of the residents of the Gulf, headed by Saudi Arabia – which has proven itself as the central player with regard to energy... Operation Decisive Storm has increased the Saudis' ability to correct the imbalance in the power balance with Iran...
"In light of the changes in the regional and strategic arenas, it is not enough for President Obama to provide guarantees or attempt to calm the situation, to make do with talk about ABM [systems] for the Gulf as he did five years ago, or to focus on the war on terror. What [he] must do [now] is take an active role in a policy that will restore the balance among the region's major powers, and reexamine his policy in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. Will he do this, and grow closer to the U.S.'s traditional partners instead of pushing them away?
"The Arab coalition will not stop. Many elements that could replace the U.S., from China to France, should be considered. [Likewise,] the Gulf states might possibly decide to initiate an arms race, for which they have the suitable economic capacities."[13]
In the same vein, Saudi columnist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh wrote, in the Saudi Al-Jazirah daily: "Last Tuesday in Riyadh, a GCC consultation summit was held, led by King Salman; during it, the countries stressed the unity, adherence, and solidarity amongst them... At this summit, the participation of French President Hollande, as a guest of honor, stood out. It constituted a clear and highly significant message to the American president, Obama, who has been chasing down the Persian ayatollahs to get them to sign a final agreement regarding the peacefulness of the Iranian nuclear facilities and to remove the sanctions from them.
"The message [sent by Hollande's presence] said clearly to Obama, prior to the summit with the Gulf heads of state at Camp David: 'Gulf residents, there are other options. You are not alone in the arena. France is an independent decision-maker, as Francophones tend to be. France is a world power, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with a veto, and a major and advanced manufacturer of developed weaponry. And, some of the armament agreements and military deals of the Gulf countries are going to be [signed] with it.'
"This is an extremely clear message, and the [U.S.] Republican Party will necessarily use it against the Democrats, particularly in the upcoming presidential election campaign between the two parties."[14]
[1] April 3, 2015, April 6, 2015.
[2], May 10, 2015.
[3], May 2, 2015.
[4], May 5, 2015.
[5] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 7, 2015.
[6] Al-Hayat (London), May 9, 2015.
[7], May 9, 2015.
[8]; Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 12, 2015.
[9] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 12, 2015; May 11, 2015.
[10] Telegraph (London) May 12, 2015;, May 11, 2015; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London) May 12, 2015.
[11] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 11, 2015.
[12] Al-Hayat (London), May 11, 2015.
[13] Al-Hayat (London), May 11, 2015.
[14] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia) May 10, 2015.