May 16/15

Bible Quotation For Today/ I will prepare a place for you and then come back to take you to be with me
John 14/01-06: ""‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Bible Quotation For Today/.Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account
Letter to the Philippians 04/15-23: "You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once.Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you.
All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 15-16/15
Israel remembers its most daring spy/Rotem Elizera/Ynetnews/May 15/15
Key Iraqi town of Ramadi falls to ISIS, along with Jubbah next door to US training base/DEBKAfile/May 15/15
The Arabs and Turkey align to topple Assad/David Ignatius/The Daily Star/May 15/15
An Opportunity for Britain to Boost its Profile/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/May 15/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 15-16/15
Rifi preparing law to dissolve military court over Samaha controversy
Lebanon justice minister 'ignorant of laws': Hezbollah MP
Hezbollah, Syrian army seize control of new Qalamoun hill
Germany will not abandon Lebanon: visiting FM
US officers in Beirut to follow up Army training: report 
Burst water pipe causes chaos in n.Lebanon’s Koura 
Daryan Calls for Independent Judiciary, Says Nation is in Danger
Nasrallah to give Qalamoun ‘victory’ speech 
Berri Says Political Situation 'Disgraceful'
Aoun Says No Need for Cabinet but Stops Short of Announcing Resignations
Police the judiciary 
Report: Salam to Reject Cabinet Resignations
Report: U.S. Central Command Officers to Visit Beirut
Nasrallah to Give Televised Speech on Qalamoun 'Victory'
Bassil Meets Steinmeier: Stability Lies in Reducing Number of Syrian Refugees, Backing Army
Who is to blame for Lebanon’s quagmire?

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 15-16/15
U.S. House Passes Bill for Congress to Review Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran prepared for all scenarios in nuclear talks: Negotiator
Obama Offers Gulf Allies 'Ironclad' Security Pledge
Iranian threats against Saudi Arabia
Egypt PM: Eradicating terrorism will take time
Obama pledges “ironclad” support to GCC security
Riyadh talks on Yemen to be followed by second round: document
What the tentative 5-day ceasefire says about the Yemen crisis
The Arabs and Turkey align to topple Assad 
Israeli sources: Israel willing to accept Iran deal for US compensation
Knesset approves 4th Netanyahu government
Blatter fears Israel vote could set dangerous precedent
Israel soldiers, Palestinians clash on 'Nakba' day
US House passes bill to review Iran nuclear deal

Canada's Official Statement on Swearing-In of 34th Government of Israel
Revealed: Mossad was asked to kill Ayatollah Khomeini
One person murdered in Israel every three days
Obama questions the Israeli cabinet for its commitment to peace
Audio suggests ISIS leader survived airstrike
IS Seizes Government HQ in Iraq's Ramadi
ISIS at gates of Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra 
Baath party releases audio of 'killed' Saddam deputy
Besieged students in Syria allowed out to take exams
UN says 'war crimes' committed in Libya
Baath party releases audio of 'killed' Saddam deputy
Iranian foreign minister Zarif says a nuclear deal is 'very likely:' Germany's Spiegel magazine
Iran FM says nuclear deal 'very likely'
Morocco says may have found body of crashed jet pilot in Yemen

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BBC likens jihad preacher Anjem Choudary to Gandhi and Mandela

Rifi preparing law to dissolve military court over Samaha controversy
The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015/BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi Friday said he would submit a draft law to the Cabinet to dissolve the Military Tribunal after a controversial verdict was handed down by the court in the Michel Samaha case. “I am preparing a draft law to annul the military court and I will present it to the Cabinet,” Rifi told reporters following a meeting with human rights organizations. "I support a civilized, non-totalitarian state,” he said. “The sentence handed down to [ex-minister Michel] Samaha was inappropriate [considering] the crime.”The tribunal Wednesday handed Samaha a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence for transporting explosives from Syria to Lebanon with the intent to assassinate political and religious figures. The verdict has drawn widespread criticism, with several March 14 figures believing it was too light of a sentence. Rifi insisted he will carry on with his “struggle to protect humans” and to “build a state that respects institutions.”Footage released Thursday showed conversations between Samaha and ISF informant Milad Kfoury in which the ex-minister discussed how the explosions should target north Lebanon MP Khaled Daher, his brother, Free Syrian Army commanders, and Syrian militant gatherings in north Lebanon. Samaha handed Kfoury $170,000 and several bags of TNT to carry out the operations, according to the footage. Kfoury shot the footage using a hidden camera.

Lebanon justice minister 'ignorant of laws': Hezbollah MP
The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015/BEIRUT: A pledge by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to take action against the Military Tribunal over its perceived lenient sentencing of Michel Samaha proves he is "ignorant of laws," a Hezbollah MP said Friday. “Minister Ashraf Rifi’s behavior did not surprise us..., [and] neither did the tense rhetoric he used to comment on the Military Tribunal’s verdict in the case of former minister Michel Samaha,” MP Nawar Sahli said in a statement released by Hezbollah's media office. “Mr. Rifi has to make up his mind: Is he a justice minister in a national interest government, or is he a commander of street [gangs]?”The comments come following a series of diatribes Rifi launched after the Military Tribunal Wednesday sentenced Samaha to four and a half years in prison over transporting explosives from Syria to Lebanon. Samaha admitted in court that the explosives were meant to be used in assassination plots targeting religious and political figures in Lebanon. He insisted that he was lured into a trap by a police informant. Rifi and other March 14 figures are complaining that the sentence was too lenient. Samaha has been in custody since Augut 2012 and is set for release in December. A judicial year in Lebanon is 9 months long. Rifi called the verdict “scandalous” and referred the Civil Consultant at the Military Tribunal Judge Leila Reaidy to interrogation. He also promised to work on amending the prerogatives and role of the Military Tribunal. On Thursday, Rifi went as far as pledging to submit to the Cabinet a draft law that would dissolve the tribunal completely. Sahli's remarks came before Rifi announced his intention to submit that law. “Rifi’s words mark an unprecedented assault on the judiciary and on justice... from a person that is supposed to be the guardian of the judiciary and justice,” Sahli said. The MP accused the Future Movement minister of committing an “illegal” act by asking the state prosecutor to challenge the verdict. “This is not permitted by any text in the Lebanese law,” he said. “But we are not shocked by Rifi’s ignorance of law and what it states.”  Referring Reaidy to the judicial inspection team was “a rude intervention in the work of the judiciary, and is in itself a scandal,” Sahli added. He went on to accuse Rifi of violating article 383 of the Lebanese Criminal Code, which outlaws the degredation of civil servants, and calling for him to be punished accordingly. The punishment for degrading a judge is a jail term that ranges between six months and two years. Rifi dismissed the criticism later Friday, telling his opponents they were wasting their breathes.
The minister said all the measures he had taken were “in accordance with Lebanese laws” and “at the heart of [his] prerogatives.”

Germany will not abandon Lebanon: visiting FM
The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015/BEIRUT: Germany will not abandon Lebanon, visiting Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday, vowing to maintain support for Syrian refugees and their host countries. “We will not abandon Lebanon, and we are trying to offer the biggest help possible for the countries who are hosting Syrian refugees,” Steinmeier said after meeting his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Beirut. “The aggregate of the aid donated by Germany, be it to Syrian refugees or to the hosting countries, has reached 1 billion euros ($1.13 million).”The comments were made during a joint news conference after the two met at the Lebanese Foreign Ministry building. Steinmeier arrived in Beirut earlier Friday at the head of a delegation for talks with Lebanese officials. A source at Beirut airport said Steinmeier will meet Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam before leaving later Friday.  “We are trying to offer all kinds of help, and the number of Syrian refugees in Germany has reached more than 100,000,” Steinmeier said. He expressed content that the latest donors’ conference in Kuwait saw states offering help not only to Syrian refugees, but to host countries too. In turn, Bassil said the international community was behind in supporting Lebanon concerning the Syrian refugee crisis, thanking Germany for its contribution.  “Germany is one of the countries that hosted more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, but is this enough to lift the burden off Lebanon?” he asked. He said the only solution to the Syrian refugee issue is to allow them a safe return to their homes, warning Europe against the danger of “the displacement of people, and terrorism.” “Germany is one of the few countries that honor their commitments,” he said. “But even if all states kept their promises, they won’t be able to fill the huge gap, because it’s a structural and not a mere economic issue.” Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled the violence in Syrian since 2012.

Hezbollah, Syrian army seize control of new Qalamoun hill
The Daily Star/ May. 15, 2015/BEIRUT/BAALBEK: Hezbollah and the Syrian army seized full control of a key hill overlooking the highway linking Damascus to Homs from jihadi fighters Friday. “The Syrian army and [Hezbollah] mujahideen have wrested control of the entire mountain range of Jabal al-Barouh, which connects the Syrian town of Ras al-Maara with the outskirts of the Lebanese [town] of Nahle,” Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said. The TV channel later reported in their primetime newscast that that Hezbollah and the Syrian Army were in full control of Ras al-Maara’s outskirts, with an area of 78 square kilometers. A security source told The Daily Star that Hezbollah and the Syrian army began clashing with militants in Jabal al-Barouh Thursday, before capturing it early Friday. Separately Friday, security sources told The Daily Star that Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters clashed overnight with jihadis from the Nusra Front-led Army of Conquest in Zabadani, in the western part of the Qalamoun region.  They said both sides exchanged artillery and machine gunfire. The developments come two days after Hezbollah and Syrian troops took over the strategic hill of Tallit Moussa, the highest peak in the Qalamoun region which reaches an altitude of 2,500 kilometers above sea level. The advancement marked the most significant victory for the allies since the battles with jihadis erupted 11 days ago in the Qalamoun mountain range, which straddles Lebanon's eastern border. Meanwhile, Army of Conquest militants foiled two attempts by ISIS fighters to infiltrate the areas of Al-Zamrani and Al-Ajram on the outer edge of Arsal near the Syrian border, according to the sources.  On Wednesday, ISIS fighters tried to infiltrate the outskirts of Arsal in an effort to join the Qalamoun battle against the Army of Conquest. The Lebanese Army foiled the attempt, the source said, forcing ISIS militants to retreat north.

Report: Salam to Reject Cabinet Resignations
Naharnet /Prime Minister Tammam Salam has reportedly stressed that he would reject possible resignations by cabinet ministers over the dispute on the mandates of senior security officers. Al-Liwaa daily on Friday quoted a ministerial source as saying that Salam has been clear on rejecting the resignations if the ministers loyal to Hizbullah and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun took such a move. MP Aoun is scheduled to hold a press conference in Rabieh on Friday to announce his next move. He has been calling on the appointment of new officials and has rejected outright the extension of the mandates of the army and police chiefs. Though it is not clear if Aoun would announce the resignation of his ministers if the cabinet failed to make new appointments, there have been many reports that he could resort to such an option.

Nasrallah to Give Televised Speech on Qalamoun 'Victory'
Naharnet /Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to give a televised speech on Saturday on the battle that his fighters are waging in the Syrian region of Qalamoun. Nasrallah's speech is expected to focus on the military, security and political aspects of the Qalamoun fighting taking place between Syrian forces backed by Hizbullah and jihadists, said As Safir daily on Friday. The Syrian soldiers and Hizbullah members have lately made progress in the Qalamoun mountains along Lebanon's border, near the Syrian capital. Sources expected Nasrallah to announce “victory” in the battle after his fighters took over several strategic positions, As Safir said. On Wednesday, they took control of Tallet Moussa, the highest hilltop in Qalamoun. The peak provides a line of sight over the border area. Some 3,000 militants are in the Qalamoun region, almost equally split between the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group, a Hizbullah commander recently said. Hizbullah cites that fear of militants sweeping through Shiite and Christian villages in diverse Lebanon as the reason for its involvement in Syria.

Report: U.S. Central Command Officers to Visit Beirut
Naharnet /A delegation from the U.S. Central Command is expected to visit Beirut soon for talks with top officials on military assistance to Lebanon, high-ranking diplomats said. The diplomats, who were not identified, told al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Friday that the delegation is scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji and the officers in charge of the U.S.-Lebanese military cooperation office. The officers have been following up the military assistance and training programs that the two countries have been engaged in, said the sources. In February, the U.S. delivered $25 million in assistance to the Lebanese army. It included 70 M198 howitzers and almost 26 million rounds of ammunition and artillery of various shapes and sizes, including heavy artillery. According to the U.S. Embassy, Lebanon is now the 5th largest recipient in the world of U.S. military foreign assistance.

Berri Says Political Situation 'Disgraceful'
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri has described the current situation as “disgraceful” as a result of the rivalry between the country's different factions. “The current situation at the level of the parliament's paralysis and the work of the government is despicable,” Berri told his visitors on Thursday. His remarks were published in several local dailies on Friday. Berri reiterated that he would call for a parliamentary session as soon as the rival Christian parties agree on a candidate for the presidency. “Let them agree and we would welcome their deal,” said the speaker. “We are not the source of the problem in the presidential deadlock,” he added. Asked about a press conference that Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun is scheduled to hold on Friday on the mandate of senior security officers, Berri said: “No comment.” When told that Aoun would “go to the extreme,” Berri responded: “We are already on the edge.”The FPM chief could announce the resignation of his ministers from the cabinet to pressure the government into appointing new security officials.He has rejected outright the extension of the mandates of the army and police chiefs.

Bassil Meets Steinmeier: Stability Lies in Reducing Number of Syrian Refugees, Backing Army
Naharnet/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil held talks on Friday with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Lebanon's efforts to support the burden of Syrian refugees and the ongoing conflict in the neighboring country. Bassil said in a press conference after meeting his German counterpart: “Stability in Lebanon lies in lowering the number of Syrian refugees, backing the army, and holding presidential and parliamentary elections.” “We demand support for the Lebanese army, which is playing a central role in confronting terrorism,” he added. “Lebanon is harboring over a million refugees and the international community has not lifted a finger to help it,” Bassil stressed. He also thanked Germany for all its support and development aid to Lebanon, noting that “it is one of the few countries that have respected their vows to Lebanon.”The large flow of refugees should be confronted with a plan that would ensure their return to their homeland, explained Bassil. The minister then stated: “I fear for Europe in that it has not yet realized the dangers of the refugees and of terrorism.” For his part, Steinmeier declared: “We are aware of the heavy burden Lebanon is enduring with the Syrian refugees and you should know that Germany will not abandon it.”“Germany is presenting around a billion euros in aid to Syrian refugees and the countries sheltering them,” he explained. There are now around 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Their presence is creating a major strain on the country's infrastructure. In December, Beirut officially imposed visa regulations on its neighbors in a move aimed at curbing the flow of refugees. This week, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas accused the United Nations of stalling in providing Lebanon with aid for the refugees. In March, International donors had pledged $3.8 billion at a U.N.-backed conference held in Kuwait.

Aoun Says No Need for Cabinet but Stops Short of Announcing Resignations
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Friday questioned the need for what he described as an ineffective government but stopped short of announcing the resignation of the ministers representing him in the cabinet. “The government existed because of compromises made by us. So what is the need for its existence if it failed to appoint security officials and failed to resolve the Syrian crisis?” Aoun asked at a press conference he held in Rabieh. Aoun also criticized the government for being incapable of implementing electricity and water projects and several other plans. “The government is not able to take decisions on time,” he said. “It is urgent for officials to understand that governance has rules.” “Do we need a government which is failing to approve major decisions because it is evading to give rights to people?” he wondered. Aoun stressed: “We will no longer allow for the violation of our rights and the Constitution.” The Change and Reform bloc leader has rejected the extension of the mandates of the army and police chiefs, calling instead for the appointment of new high-ranking officials. “The state has reached a stage of disintegration,” he said. Aoun blamed the crisis on “the limitation of the presidential powers” and “the lack of participation by all the Lebanese factions” in the country's political life. “Are we living in a society based on the mafia where all of the people’s rights are violated?” he said. The solutions to the current problems come through the election of the president by the people, a presidential referendum and holding parliamentary elections based on a new and balanced electoral law before organizing the presidential polls, the FPM chief added.

Daryan Calls for Independent Judiciary, Says Nation is in Danger
Naharnet/Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan called on Friday for an independent judiciary to give criminals a fair trial following a campaign of criticism by officials against the military court over its verdict against former Minister Michel Samaha.
“The state and the nation are in danger. We look forward for the righteousness of the Lebanese judicial system so that its decisions become fair and create stability,” Daryan said in a televised speech on the occasion of Isra and Miraj. He called on the judiciary to be “impartial and independent to give criminals fair verdicts.”On Wednesday, the military court sentenced Samaha, a former pro-Damascus information minister, to four-and-a-half years in jail over terrorism charges. The court said Samaha, arrested in August 2012, would be released at the end of this year taking into account time served and because the judicial year amounts to nine months in Lebanon. He admitted in court last month that he had transported explosives from Syria for use in attacks in Lebanon, but argued he had been the victim of entrapment. But the verdict drew severe criticism from mainly the March 14 alliance and centrists over the lenient sentence. In his televised address, Daryan slammed “all those participating in the destruction of the state.”“They are all Lebanese. There is no excuse for the disintegration of the state,” he said. The Grand Mufti also stressed that the vacuum at the Baabda Palace has no justification. The country's top Christian post has been vacant since May last year following the expiry of President Michel Suleiman's six-year mandate. Daryan also drew attention to the region's conflicts and the rising danger of extremism in several countries.“Our nations and religions are in danger. Such a danger on religion and the land does not only come from Zionists but also from divisions in our religion and extremism,” he said.
Daryan described the Islamic State without naming it as “evil” and rejected the destruction of churches under the pretext of religion. Turning to the Palestinian cause, he said: “The Zionists are not only occupying land, they also want to abolish others.”
“Zionists want to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of Resurrection,” he stated. They “are assaulting our religion and forcing our displacement by building more settlements.” Daryan called on all believers to unite with the Palestinians and those seeking justice. “Our priority is to salvage al-Aqsa, Jerusalem and the Palestinians,” he said.

Obama Offers Gulf Allies 'Ironclad' Security Pledge
Naharnet /President Barack Obama tried to reassure America's Gulf allies Thursday that engaging with Iran would not come at their expense, at a Camp David summit that proved short on concrete outcomes. Pledging to counter external threats to Gulf states amid Iran's growing role in the region, Obama said his security commitment to the decades-old allies was "ironclad." He said the United States was prepared to help "deter and confront an external threat to any GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) state's territorial integrity."But behind the warm words, there remains deep unease. Only two out of six Gulf heads of state accepted the invitation to visit the presidential mountain retreat, in what was widely seen as a snub to the U.S. leader. Around the table, Obama faced the tough task of convincing skeptical emirs, princes and sheikhs that his ambition to reach a nuclear deal with Tehran will not come at their expense. Iran stands to regain in excess of $100 billion in blocked cash if sanctions are lifted -- cash the Gulf states believe could help fund the Islamic republic's "destabilizing" activities in the region. "Most of the destabilizing activity that Iran engages in is low-tech, low-cost activity," Obama said, indicating that he believed Iran would be more interested in fixing its economy than bumper weapons buys. Gulf states are not so sure, and had asked the United States to provide a written guarantee of their security.
- Treaty talk rebuffed -
But that suggestion has been rebuffed. "We're not initiating treaties, mutual defense treaties," said senior Obama advisor Ben Rhodes. "That is a very complicated piece of business." Such a pact would be difficult to pass through a pro-Israeli Congress, and the White House sees asymmetric threats and internal unease at closed political systems as a greater security priority. The Gulf states had to settle for progress on ballistic missile defense, joint military exercises and cyber and maritime security initiatives. Saudi Foreign Minister Abdel al Jubeir said the meeting was about strategy and not bargaining. "This was not a negotiation, this was not a meeting where we say 'we want' and the U.S. says 'we give'." "The reality of the the relationship is that we have a common security, we have 80,000 American troops in the Gulf, we have aircraft carriers, we have airplanes, we have fought wars together."But Obama also insisted that close security ties with Gulf nations were not designed to box in Iran. "The purpose of security cooperation is not to perpetuate any long-term confrontation with Iran or even to marginalize Iran," he said. The Gulf states believe the United States is not doing enough to prevent what they say is Iran's fuelling of the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq that have thrown the Middle East into deep crisis. The assembled leaders did not have to look hard for evidence of the seriousness of their task.
Even as the leaders gathered, it emerged that Iran's Revolutionary Guard had fired on a commercial ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, the Islamic State executed 26 civilians in Syria and, amid a shaky truce in Yemen, Sanaa recalled its envoy to Tehran.
The Arab and largely Sunni Muslim states also fear the nuclear deal could be a harbinger of closer U.S. ties with their Persian and Shiite arch-foe. Obama's relationship with the Gulf had already been strained by his perceived quickness to welcome democratic Arab Spring revolts and a reduced dependence on Gulf oil. The United States and the ultra-conservative Gulf monarchies have close ties that go back decades, their mutual interests trumping their vastly different national ideologies. In 1980, in the wake of a crippling oil shock precipitated by Iran's Islamic Revolution, then-president Jimmy Carter pledged to come to the defense of vital oil-producing Gulf states. That policy was made manifest a decade later, when president George Bush sent troops to Kuwait when it was invaded by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Today, the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain and a U.S. military command center with substantial troops is stationed in Qatar. Agence France Presse

Police the judiciary
The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015 |
The emergence of a sensational videotape in connection with the Michel Samaha terror case should spark a renewed effort to produce a suitable sentence for the former minister – and a suitable shake-up of the judiciary. In the video, seen less than 24 hours after Samaha received a lenient four-and-a-half year sentence for his role in a bomb plot designed to spark civil strife, the confidante of the Syrian regime is heard speaking openly about the plot’s details. Samaha and an undercover agent from the Internal Security Forces discuss who in Damascus is in the know, and who exactly is to be targeted in north Lebanon. Did the Military Tribunal see this footage? How could it have believed defense arguments that Samaha was an afterthought to the plot, instead of one of its central figures? Perhaps politicians and others who have defended Samaha will think twice before speaking out further, and straining their credibility even more. Meanwhile, if the Samaha case and its bizarre sentence have done anything, it is to remind people about the urgency of judicial reform. As things stand now, people who sell small amounts of nonlethal drugs are punished more harshly than would-be murderers of dozens, if not hundreds, of people. These days, many people in Lebanon are accused of harboring extremist ideologies and violent objectives – if they are caught and put on trial, should they receive the same leniency as Samaha? Or is it time to clean up the judiciary?

Israeli sources: Israel willing to accept Iran deal for US compensation
Ronen Bergman/Ynetnews /Published: 05.15.15/ Israel News
As deal between US and Iran seems more likely, some Israeli sources say it might be time to shift gears and trade silence for compensation. The US Congress will not be able to stop a nuclear deal with Iran from being signed, according to recent assessments by sources in Israel's Foreign Ministry, the intelligence community and AIPAC, who now believe it might be time to shift gears. Sources in Jerusalem have now realized that instead of continuing to fight a lost cause, Israel has another route that could help secure its interests – namely, asking the US for compensation in the form of expensive weapons or other favors. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could either continue to fight the deal or he could swallow the deal, asking in return far-reaching benefits from the US, the sources said. A high-ranking government official told Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth that "The White House is willing to pay a hefty price to get some quiet from the Israelis at this point. We are surprised the demand has not been made."
A week ago, the Senate voted in favor of a bill that would allow Congress to review any nuclear deal President Barack Obama intends to sign with Iran. According to the legislation, Congress would have 30 days to review the deal and pass a motion of disapproval.
The bill is considered only in principle, and even Obama chose not to oppose it. The bill's opponents were unsuccessful in passing an amendment requiring any agreement to be submitted to the Senate as a treaty. Under the constitution, that would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate. One of the most pivotal and vocal senators working against the Iran nuclear deal was former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez.
The bill's opponents, including those in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, had hoped that Menendez would be able to stop the bill from passing, mainly because he was a key Democrat willing to speak out against the White House, but a recent corruption investigation opened against Menendez by the US Justice Department caused those hopes to diminish.
In light of the investigation, Menendez announced on April 1 that he was suspending himself from the Foreign Relations Committee. "With his departure from the scene, at least at this time, the most important engine working against the signing of the deal has disappeared," said a Senate staffer. A journalist who regularly covers the White House said that over the past two weeks, there has been a sudden change in tone with regards to Netanyahu. "It is not because all of a sudden they love the prime minister of Israel there," he said. "But rather because, in their eyes, everything must be done to get the deal with Iran approved, if and when the remaining details that were left out of the outline signed in Switzerland are agreed upon."According to the sources, the White House is willing to seriously consider substantial compensation to Israel so long as it does not provoke strong protest against the agreement until the deal is signed in July. According to these sources, at a meeting between the Pentagon and State Department, various possibilities that could meet Israeli demands were discussed – with the most reasonable option thought to be an increase in the amount of F-35 fighter jets given to Israel. The US would be willing to consider a "serious subsidy" of some of the additional jets whose acquisition has been stalled. Another option is the production of additional Iron Dome batteries – paid for the by the US. Israeli sources say they believe the US would be willing to pay a high price for Israel's silence, but is in no hurry to make any demands. "If we come with demands at this point, it would mean that we have given up our objections to the deal, and now it is just a matter of at what price," said an Israeli source. "If Israel believes that the deal is a bad one for its security, it cannot appear as someone who gave up in the end," said the source.

Canada's Official Statement on Swearing-In of 34th Government of Israel
May 14, 2015 – Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the swearing-in of the new Israeli government:
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the occasion of the swearing-in of Israel’s 34th government.
“Canada has a warm and long-standing friendship with Israel, which is based on a shared commitment to the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
“Our government will continue to strongly support Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself, by itself. Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered this message to the Israeli people in his historic address before the Israeli Knesset in January 2014. We also continue to support a bilaterally negotiated two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians based on a commitment to peace and mutual security.
“I wish the Prime Minister and his cabinet success in their new term and offer our best wishes to the people of Israel.”

Revealed: Mossad was asked to kill Ayatollah Khomeini
Ynetnews/Ronen Bergman/Published: 05.15.15/Israel News
Book by former Mossad official Yossi Alpher details secret relationships with Irans Shahs and an unusual request to take the life of the revolutionary Ayatollah.In a shocking revelation at a special conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, it was revealed that former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister before the Islamic Revolution, asked Mossad agents in Tehran to assassinate the leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini.The new information was revealed with the release of a new book from Yossi Alpher, a former Mossad official. In it's pages, Alpher saying that Eliezer Tzafrir received the request from Bakhtiar in January 1979 to kill Khomeini who was living in Paris at the time after being deported from Iraq.
Iraq offered to hand Khomeini to the Shah in Iran to be executed, but the leader refused and the revolutionary found assylum in France. Israel maintained a top secret relationship with the Shahs of Iran and carried out deals that included extensive sales of arms produced in Israeli factories. Additionally, the two countries created an intimate relationship in the field of intelligence. After Tzafrir received the request of serious implications, the message was passed on to Mossad officials in Tel Aviv who met to discuss their options.
"Mossad director Yitzhak Hofi announced at the beginning of the meeting that wasn't prone to support the request on moral grounds but asked to hear the opinions of those who were present," said Alpher. "I told the heads of the Mossad that I had difficulty supporting the request because we didn't know enough about who and what Khomeini was. I really regret not supporting that request."

The Arabs and Turkey align to topple Assad
David Ignatius/The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015
As Arab leaders and President Barack Obama have met this week to discuss Middle East security, developments in Syria could bolster the opposition’s campaign to topple the regime there. Driving the opposition push in Syria is a new working relationship between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, the key backers of the rebels in northern Syria. Those countries had been at loggerheads since the Syrian revolution began in 2011, and their internecine quarrels and proxy wars were debilitating for the opposition. Conversely, their new alliance has bolstered the opposition’s chances – and have led to major gains on the battlefield.
The partnership on Syria appears to have been brokered in part by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, the Persian Gulf leader who has the closest relations with Turkey. The rapprochement also seems to reflect a change in policy by King Salman, the new Saudi monarch who has moved his country toward closer cooperation with Qatar and Turkey after years of enmity during the reign of his predecessor, King Abdullah. By pumping weapons to Syrian rebels across the Turkish border, the three countries have forged a new opposition coalition known as the Army of Conquest, which has made significant gains over the past two months in Idlib province and other areas in the northwest. The regime army, loyal to President Bashar Assad, appears to be exhausted after four years of fighting and no longer able to hold some contested ground.
Assad’s difficulties are linked to the wider Middle East situation because of his dependence on Iran. As the Obama administration has sought a nuclear deal with Iran, America’s Arab allies have moved to challenge Tehran and its proxies more openly, first by military intervention against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen and now by the bolder policy in Syria. Iran and its Shiite allies are facing significant pressure from the emboldened Sunnis, arguably for the first time in decades. A tricky problem is that the rebels have been fighting alongside a group called the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda. Sources said Tuesday that it’s likely that in coming days a Nusra Front faction will split publicly from Al-Qaeda and join the Army of Conquest. This could be a tipping point in the north, with a broad coalition allied against both the Assad regime and ISIS. Jordan and Israel have developed secret contacts with members of the Nusra Front along their borders.
Another potential game-changer is a new U.S. willingness to support a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. This haven, backed by U.S. air power, would allow some refugees to return home while providing a staging area for an expected assault by a U.S.-trained Syrian army, whose first units have just been formed, against the de facto ISIS capital in Raqqa. Russia’s role will be important in the evolving Syrian drama. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Russia this week for talks with President Vladimir Putin that included a possible Russian role in a political transition away from the Assad regime. Putin has long resisted any deal that makes Assad’s departure a precondition for peace talks, but that position may be softening.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all been cooperating in trying to cultivate new leaders from Assad’s Alawite minority who could lead the country during a transition. Those contacts have accelerated in recent days, despite the regime’s attempts to crush any Alawite rivals. Assad’s position is weakening sharply. There have been reports this week that Gen. Ali Mamlouk, one of the intelligence chiefs in his inner circle, had been placed under house arrest in Damascus. While this was later called into question, it followed the recent death of Gen. Rustom Ghazali, another of Assad’s intelligence satraps. Qatar’s role in encouraging a Saudi-Turkish rapprochement could also improve the situation in Libya. There, the Qataris and Turks have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate known as “Libyan Dawn,” while the Saudis, Egyptians and Emiratis have backed the Tobruk parliament and the allied forces of Gen. Khalifa Haftar. But sources say Libyan Dawn has agreed to cooperate with Haftar in fighting ISIS extremists. The Saudis, too, are said to be tentatively supporting a U.N. mediator’s negotiations in Morocco to form a Libyan transitional government. Against this turbulent and fast-changing regional background, Obama held talks with Gulf leaders, on Wednesday at the White House and Thursday at Camp David. Because of the absence of King Salman and some other rulers, the senior leaders present will be the Qatari emir and his Kuwaiti counterpart. After four years of a bloody stalemate in Syria, the leaders will at least be able to discuss the possibility of change.
**David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.

Key Iraqi town of Ramadi falls to ISIS, along with Jubbah next door to US training base
DEBKAfile Special Report May 15, 2015,
Ramadi, the provincial capital of western Iraqi Anbar, fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Friday, May 15 after its inhabitants were put to mass flight. The town, 110 km west of Baghdad, controls the traffic on the Euphrates River. Small pockets of Iraqi troops are still stranded there after taking hundreds of casualties.
The jihadists are in mid-momentum of a fresh multi-pronged offensive, which they launched shortly after they lost Tikrit last month to the biggest counter-offensive they had faced since seizing large tracts of land in Iraq nearly a year ago.
This momentum has carried the Islamists across Anbar province which touches the Syrian and Jordanian borders to capture another key location - Jubba, next door to Iraq’s biggest air base at Al-Ansar. There, hundreds of US officers and soldiers are training Iraqi troops to fight ISIS and helping the Iraqi army manage the fighting in the province.
Parts of this base have already come under Islamist gun and mortar fire.
Not far from Ramadi, ISIS is threatening the oil-producing town of Baiji where a small Iraqi army force of no more than a few hundred soldiers is surrounded by the jihadists, with slim chances of holding out much longer before they are wiped out or forced to surrender.
Yet another ISIS arm is pushing east towards Baghdad, with the object of disabling the international airport by bringing its runways within mortar range.
To conquer Ramadi, ISIS used bulldozers to knock gaps in the sand earthworks built by the Iraqi army to defend the town, then sending half a dozen bomb cars through the gaps to the Iraqi military command centers where they detonated.
Some of those bomb cars were driven by Muslims from West Europe, who had traveled through Syria to join up with ISIS in Iraq. The jihadists named one of them as “Abu Musa al-Britani.”
Just Thursday, May 14, the British police revealed that more than 700 potential terror suspects had traveled to Syria from the U.K. to fight or support extremists, and about half are believed to have returned, primed for terrorist operations on home ground.
In response to the British police statement, ISIS released a video recording of a message delivered by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calling on supporters around the world to join the fight in Syria and Iraq or to "take up arms wherever they live."
It was Baghdadi’s first message since a number of media reports said he was killed or critically injured, and was intended to refute claims that he was no longer in active charge of the group.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources outline the common operational tactic, modus operandi, employed by the Islamist group in all its Iraq offensives.
After singling out a targeted location, their fighters first seize control of its environs. That way, they can block off in advance any incoming and outgoing movements of Iraqi troops - whether in retreat or for bringing up reinforcements. Next, their fighters storm into the core of the targeted location. Fleeing Iraqi soldiers and their local allies and civilians are summarily put to death.
This new ISIS impetus in Iraq has wiped out the military advantages the Iran-backed Shiite militias and US air force gained from the capture of the central Iraqi town of Tikrit in late March and early April. When the Shiie mlitias turned on the local Sunni populace for murder, burning and looting, the Obama administration turned to Tehran and Baghdad and demanded those militias be removed from the city.
Since the Iraqi army is incapable of recovering control and holding Tikrit after the Islamists were driven out, the town has sunk into anarchy with innumerable armed gangs battling each other for control of its quarters, some of them ISIS loyalists.
In the current situation prevailing in western Iraq, the Americans and Iraqis might as well forget about their plans for retaking Iraq’s second city, Mosul, from ISIS control, this year.

Question: "How can salvation be not of works when faith is required? Isn't believing a work?"
Answer: Our salvation depends solely upon Jesus Christ. He is our substitute, taking sin’s penalty (2 Corinthians 5:21); He is our Savior from sin (John 1:29); He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The work necessary to provide salvation was fully accomplished by Jesus Himself, who lived a perfect life, took God’s judgment for sin, and rose again from the dead (Hebrews 10:12).
The Bible is quite clear that our own works do not help merit salvation. We are saved “not because of righteous things we had done” (Titus 3:5). “Not by works” (Ephesians 2:9). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). This means that offering sacrifices, keeping the commandments, going to church, being baptized, and other good deeds are incapable of saving anyone. No matter how “good” we are, we can never measure up to God’s standard of holiness (Romans 3:23; Matthew 19:17; Isaiah 64:6).
The Bible is just as clear that salvation is conditional; God does not save everyone. The one condition for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. Nearly 200 times in the New Testament, faith (or belief) is declared to be the sole condition for salvation (John 1:12; Acts 16:31).
One day, some people asked Jesus what they could do to please God: “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus immediately points them to faith: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29). So, the question is about God’s requirements (plural), and Jesus’ answer is that God’s requirement (singular) is that you believe in Him.
Grace is God’s giving us something we cannot earn or deserve. According to Romans 11:6, “works” of any kind destroys grace—the idea is that a worker earns payment, while the recipient of grace simply receives it, unearned. Since salvation is all of grace, it cannot be earned. Faith, therefore, is a non-work. Faith cannot truly be considered a “work,” or else it would destroy grace. (See also Romans 4—Abraham’s salvation was dependent on faith in God, as opposed to any work he performed.)
Suppose someone anonymously sent me a check for $1,000,000. The money is mine if I want it, but I still must endorse the check. In no way can signing my name be considered earning the million dollars—the endorsement is a non-work. I can never boast about becoming a millionaire through sheer effort or my own business savvy. No, the million dollars was simply a gift, and signing my name was the only way to receive it. Similarly, exercising faith is the only way to receive the generous gift of God, and faith cannot be considered a work worthy of the gift.
True faith cannot be considered a work because true faith involves a cessation of our works in the flesh. True faith has as its object Jesus and His work on our behalf (Matthew 11:28-29; Hebrews 4:10).
To take this a step further, true faith cannot be considered a work because even faith is a gift from God, not something we produce on our own. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Praise the Lord for His power to save and for His grace to make salvation a reality!
**Recommended Resources: Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification by R.C. Sproul and Logos Bible Software.
Israel remembers its most daring spy
Rotem Elizera/Ynetnews
Published: 05.15.15/ Israel News
50 years ago, Eli Cohen, aka Kamal Amin Ta'abet, was hanged in a public square in Damascus, after a five-month trial and harsh interrogation and torture; efforts to bring his remains back to Israel have been in vain.
He provided an abundance of vital intelligence that assisted the country in the war against its enemies; and this month marked 50 years (according to the Hebrew calendar) since the execution in Damascus of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen. All the efforts to bring his remains back to Israel for burial have come to naught thus far.
Born in Egypt, Cohen moved to Israel at the age of 33 and settled in Bat Yam, where he worked as a translator and subsequently married Nadia, an Iraqi immigrant. In May 1960, he was recruited by Unit 188, Military Intelligence's operational unit, trained as a spy and then sent to Argentina, where he took on a false identity – that of Kamal Amin Ta'abet, an exiled Syrian businessman.
Two years later, he moved to Damascus, rented an apartment nearby the Syrian Army's general headquarters, and soon forged close ties with senior Syrian military and government officials.
Thanks to these ties, he managed to gather vital intelligence, which he then passed on to his Israeli handlers – usually during the course of "business trips" in Europe, where he would also meet with members of his family. Some of the intelligence Cohen provided, for example, was of paramount help to the Israel Defense Forces during the Six-Day War.
Two years or so after beginning his work in Syria, the Mossad assumed control of his operations.
Syrian officials began to suspect there was a spy in their midst after Israel thwarted a classified plot to sabotage Israel's National Water Carrier project. In January 1965, in an effort to root out the spy, the Syrian regime imposed a 24-hour period of radio silence.
Cohen knew nothing about it, and he was apprehended in his apartment by Syrian security while transmitting a report to his handlers. On May 18, 1965, after a five-month trial and harsh interrogation and torture, Cohen was publicly hanged in Damascus' Marjeh Square. He was survived by his wife and three children.
On May 18, the President's Residence in Jerusalem will host an event in his honor, to be attended by the prime minister and former Mossad chiefs.
"We live the tragedy every day," his widow, Nadia, said. "Despite the fact that 50 years have gone by, we still miss him. Time doesn't heal the pain; it intensifies it. His was a life cut short. The children and grandchildren uphold his legacy, remember him, and are proud of what he did."

An Opportunity for Britain to Boost its Profile
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 15 May, 2015
Until even a few years ago the UK general elections attracted special attention in the Middle East, reflecting historic, economic and political bonds going back to the 19th century in the context of a love–hate relationship.
This month, however, the UK general election that produced the first majority Conservative government in two decades went almost unnoticed. Those who did mention it in tea-houses from Cairo to Tehran, passing by Baghdad, attracted no more than a few yawns.
However, this lack of interest may be as misplaced as the exaggerated interest shown in the past.
Britain’s decline as a global power started almost immediately after the Second World War and was symbolically sealed with the East of Suez retreat in 1971. In the final phases of the Cold War, the best that Britain could do was play second fiddle to the American “superpower.” And, yet, thanks to centuries of “special relations” Britain always retained a voice in the Middle East. In 1990, that voice played a crucial part in mobilizing the US-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
What about now?
Because of President Obama’s delusional strategy, a growing vacuum is emerging that a revamped Britain might be able to fill, at least in part.
But before we consider that, let’s make a couple of points clear. The first is that today no outside power is in a position to decide rain and sunshine in a conflict-ridden Middle East; any talk of restoring Pax Britannica is absurd. Britain alone no longer has the economic and military power, not to mention the moral authority, to guarantee a new balance of power in the region. The second point is that in two years’ time the US may change captain and resume leadership in evolving a new balance of power to guarantee peace and stability in the arc of crisis that spans from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic—which affects not only the Middle East but also North Africa and Europe.
The role that Britain could play at this time may be one of holding the fort until the cavalry returns.
But why should we assume that Britain could play such a role, supposing it is tempted? One reason is that Britain remains a veto-holding member of the UN Security Council and therefore could, if it wanted, assume a leading role on the diplomatic front. For example, Britain could challenge Obama’s plan to rush the nuclear deal with Iran through the Security Council with a resolution designed on the basis of what he terms “creative ambiguity.” Obama has chosen the UN path, where he hopes to encounter no hurdles, to avoid submitting an agreement to the US Congress where he knows he would face opposition.
Britain could also play a role in helping the European Union develop policies regarding the region’s pressing issues, including the disintegration of Syria and a looming Arab-Kurdish civil war in Iraq. Having played a leading role in toppling Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Britain could return with initiatives to help stabilize that country, thus also helping deal with the influx of illegal immigrants from Africa.
Another reason why Britain could punch above its weight is the network of contacts it has in every country in the arc of crisis. There, a substantial segment of the political, military and business elite is British-educated, a distinction unrivalled by any other power with the exception of the retreating United States.
Even the current ruling elite among the mullahs and military in Tehran has always maintained close links with Britain through open and clandestine channels. Many mullahs believe that the US is nothing but muscle for a British mastermind! This is why they try to obtain PhDs from British universities for themselves and their offspring, and in recent years have joined elites from other regional countries in securing pieds-à-terre in London.
Relative to the size of its economy Britain remains the biggest pole of attraction for investments from the region. It is also the main destination for Middle Eastern visitors for medical attention or tourism. Britain’s position within the Commonwealth, a grouping of 53 nations in all continents, also provides a unique network of global, diplomatic, political and economic contacts.
No longer a military giant with global reach, Britain still remains NATO’s number two power in terms of deployable capacities. The 28 European Union nations have a combined military force of 3.2 million men. Of these, however, only 25,000 could be quickly deployed to theaters outside the continent. Much of that capacity belongs to Britain which has also managed to maintain one of the world’s only three blue water navies.
Right now, Britain has other advantages. With a new government, it is assured of five years of political stability. It is also the only EU member-state with a reasonable economic growth rate and thus capable of ring-fencing, if not actually raising its defense and foreign aid budgets. Because of its contacts, Britain could act as the shoulder on which rival groups in the region cry, an important attribute for a mediator. Powerful enough to be heard, Britain, at the same time, is not powerful enough to overreach itself.
It could provide a synthesis of Norway and the United States, mixing diplomacy in the service of peace with a minimum of military and economic credibility to make a difference.
Britain has the potential. However, potential alone is never a guarantee of success.
Many things could go awry. Britain could see itself bogged down in a dispute over membership of the European Union in a surrealistic form of navel-gazing diplomacy. Scottish secessionists, now the third largest party in the House of Commons, could repeat the shenanigans of the Charles Parnell group that paralyzed British politics in the name of Irish nationalism for years in the 19th century.
A set of coincidences have produced a situation in which Britain could boost its profile as a power in the service of peace and stability. Will David Cameron see that opportunity, let alone try to seize it? We shall have to wait and see but don’t hold your breath.