May 19/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also
John 12/26-30: "Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say "Father, save me from this hour"? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine."

Bible Quotation For Today/They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practise every kind of impurity.
Letter to the Ephesians04/17-24: "Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart.
They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practise every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 18-19/15
Eli Cohen remembered on 50th anniversary of execution/GREER FAY CASHMAN/May 19/15
'No alternative' to Saudi peace plan, says expert/Ynetnews/Smadar Perry/May 19/15
Ramadi’s fall opens ISIS road to Baghdad. Jordan warns US air strikes won’t stop the terrorists’ advance/DEBKAfile/May 18/15

Sooner or Later, Justice Will be Done/Walid Joumblatt/May 18/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 18-19/15
Iran 'proud' of Qalamoun victory: Khamenei aide
Khamenei Adviser Hails Lebanese for Uniting against Takfiris
Khamenei aide hails Hezbollah advance in Qalamoun 

Ban Reaffirms U.N. Commitment to STL
Rifi Reveals Plans for STL to Study Samaha Case
Berri Stays Mum on Verdict against Samaha
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqrfiles appeal for Samaha retrial, demands tougher penalty
Lebanese ex-minister Michel Samaha to be retried over Syria plot
Saqr files appeal for Samaha retrial
Berri files complaint against Israel 
No end in sight to presidential vacuum: Salam 
FPM delegation meets Rai, Geagea over presidential initiative
Army pounds militant positions on Arsal’s outskirts 
Amine Gemayel to step down as leader of Kataeb
FPM lobbies Christian leaders on Aoun initiative 
Labor Ministry warns against sacking Lebanese for foreigners 
Byblos launches new summer wine festival 
Giant sand sculptures adorn Tyre’s beach 

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 18-19/15
As ISIS overtakes Iraqi city, US tries to plays down the impact
Fighting in Iraq’s Ramadi displaces thousands
IS Rockets Kill Five in Syria's Palmyra
Ex-deputy CIA chief: Syria experiencing five wars 
Middle East turmoil if Egypt's Morsi executed: Turkish presidency
Iraq’s Ramadi falls to ISIS after army deserts city
Coalition airstrikes resume in Yemen
Syria power output down 56 percent in war: report
Kerry: Houthi actions make ceasefire ‘difficult’
Report: Saudi Arabia in talks to purchase Pakistani nuclear weapons
Egypt executes six Islamist militants for killing of soldiers
Iran eyeing full-force return to oil market once nuclear deal passes
One year on from Haftar’s Operation Dignity, Benghazi is sliding into anarchy
Nearly 200 arrested in Texas after deadly biker gang shootout
Twin blasts rock offices of Turkey's Kurdish party
Kuwait court upholds 2-year sentence against activist
Indian nurse dies after 42 years in coma after rape
The problem that won’t go away
Saving the Syrian-Palestinians in Yarmouk
Blues, the Devil’s music
Salma Hayek: Women earn more than male actors only in porn

Latest Jihad Watch News
White House steps up warnings about jihad terrorism on U.S. soil
UK Muslim who tried to join Islamic State: “there’s no life, no life without Jihad
Appeals Court rules YouTube should not have been forced to take down film critical of Muhammad
Islamic State says women can become suicide bombers without husband’s permission
Turkey: Muslims shoot 19-year-old woman in the head for appearing on a televised song contest
Boston Marathon jihad murderer’s mother: Non-Muslims will burn in “flames of an eternal and terrifying fire, an otherworldly flame, inshaallah”
Islamic State Ramadan rules: 2-hour workday, women forbidden to leave homes
Denmark gave 32 jihadis in the Islamic State $58,000 in welfare payments
Belgium: Seven Muslimas convicted of terror charges for joining Islamic State

Military Prosecutor Judge Saqrfiles appeal for Samaha retrial, demands tougher penalty
Youssef Diab| The Daily Star/May. 19, 2015
BEIRUT: Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr filed an appeal Monday against what was viewed as a lenient jail sentence handed down to former Minister Michel Samaha last week, demanding a tougher penalty, judicial sources told The Daily Star. The appeal, submitted to the Military Court of Cassation, challenges the Military Tribunal’s four-and-a-half-year jail sentence issued against Samaha over smuggling explosives from Syria into Lebanon with the intent to target political and religious figures.
Saqr and Assistant Prosecutor Judge Hani Hajjar urged the Court of Cassation to nullify the sentence and retry Samaha on all charges brought against him in the initial indictment which demanded the death penalty. The prosecutors also urged the court to display video and audio recordings showing Samaha handing over explosives and money to Milad Kfoury – an undercover Internal Security Forces agent. A judicial source told The Daily Star that the appeal’s memo is 14 pages long and asserts that Samaha is guilty of charges that should be met with a tougher penalty.
It also states that the Military Tribunal sentenced Samaha for “attempts” to carry out terrorist acts, when in fact, the crimes Samaha committed go beyond that. The appeal argued that since Samaha met with Kfoury on several occasions, planned the operations, agreed on the targets and handed the explosives and a sum of money over to the agent, then his role in the plot was complete. Considering that, Samaha should be found guilty of carrying out terrorist operations and not merely an attempt to do so, it said. The appeal also challenged the court’s verdict, which found the suspect not guilty of attempted murder. The appeal said that Samaha had made all preparations in an attempt to assassinate religious and political figures. The killings did not occur, however, because of circumstances beyond the suspect’s control and not because of the lack of criminal intent. The Court of Cassation will have 15 days to review the appeal before issuing a decision.
If it accepts the appeal, then the court must retry Samaha and should issue a new verdict within two months of approving the challenge to the original sentence. If the appeal is rejected, then Samaha will serve out his four-and-a-half-year-sentence. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said he was preparing a proposal to refer the case of Samaha to the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, or the International Criminal Court due to similarities in the types of explosives carried by Samaha and those used to assassinate Lebanese political figures. In an interview with Future TV, Rifi said the decision came as a result of an existing “link between the explosives carried by Samaha from Syria to Lebanon,” and those used to assassinate George Hawi, the former head of the Lebanese Communist Party, and journalist Samir Kassir.“The 20 little explosives that were seized from Michel Samaha weigh between 1 and 1.5 kilos ... and are equipped with a magnetic clip,” he said. “We have uncovered these kinds of explosives in the assassinations of Hawi and Kassir, as well the attempted assassination of [journalist] May Chidiac.” The STL or the ICC, Rifi said, could compare the residues of the magnetic clips that were used in the three mentioned cases with the magnetic clips seized from Samaha. Rifi, who had denounced the lenient jail sentence against Samaha, described the Military Tribunal’s verdict as “a recipe for strife.”

Lebanese ex-minister Michel Samaha to be retried over Syria plot
Reuters, Beirut/Monday, 18 May 2015/A Lebanese judge ordered a retrial of a former minister on Monday who was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison last week for smuggling explosives into Lebanon from Syria and planning terrorist attacks. The sentencing of Michel Samaha, who is close to the Syrian government, drew harsh criticism from Lebanese politicians and members of the public who considered his punishment too lenient. Samaha has been in detention since August 2012 and his case has gripped Lebanon because such action against Damascus or its Lebanese allies was once unthinkable. He was sentenced on Wednesday by a military court after confessing last month to the charges and giving details of the plot allegedly devised with Syria's security chief, Ali Mamlouk. The arrest of Samaha and indictments against two Syrian officials, one a top general, in the case, marked a major break with the past. Top Syrian officials have previously denied the charges but have not commented on the verdict. Samaha's trial reflects how the crisis in Syria is rippling through a country where Damascus has played a major role for decades and whose future will be shaped by the outcome of the four-year conflict next door.

FPM delegation meets Rai, Geagea over presidential initiative
The Daily Star/May. 18, 2015
BEIRUT: A Free Patriotic Movement delegation held talks with Christian officials Monday, meeting Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Kataeb chief Amine Gemayel to promote the party's new initiative to end the presidential vacuum.The delegation, including MPs Ibrahim Kanaan, Naamatallah Abi Nasser, Alain Aoun, and Salim Salhab, handed a copy of FPM chief Michel Aoun’s proposal to Rai.“We are in an exceptional situation and it requires exceptional solutions,” Kanaan told a news conference after the meeting, emphasizing that Rai welcomed the initiative and considered it “serious.” After that meeting, the delegation sat with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea at his residence in Maarab.
“The Lebanese Forces are open to all suggestions, and we will build on that in our next meetings," Kanaan told reporters after the session.
The delegation then met with Gemayel, after which Kanaan said: “The purpose is to elect a president, enhance the role of Christians in the system, and enact a fair electoral law. In other words, the partnership has been lost, and we want to bring it back.”
The four FPM officials will also be meeting with Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh Tuesday, Future Movement officials Wednesday, and later with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.
Aoun’s proposal, announced at a news conference Friday, provided four options to solve the presidential crisis.
The first option, which had already been proposed by the FPM chief last year, states that a president could be elected directly by the people in two rounds of voting, first by Christians, and then by all Lebanese.
This option would require an amendment to the Constitution, which states that Lebanon’s Parliament is responsible for electing a president.
A second option would be to hold a popular referendum to know who among the presidential candidates enjoys the most support. The winner would then be elected president by the Parliament.
Kanaan explained Monday that the referendum would be held in two phases, first for Christians, and then for all Lebanese. This option is essentially the same as the first option, but would not require a constitutional amendment since Parliament would still technically be responsible for electing the president. The third possibility would be to allow the Parliament to elect one of two of its most popular Maronite lawmakers.
As for the fourth, which Aoun described as a “constitutional solution” as opposed to the three first “compromises,” it suggests that a new Parliament is elected based on a new electoral law that is more representative of the people, and then lawmakers would in turn vote for a president.The new electoral law should prioritize “parity between Muslims and Christians according to the Constitution and the National Pact,” he specified.
On Saturday, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah urged the rival factions to seriously consider Aoun’s proposal to end the presidential deadlock. “I urge political parties to look into, consider and study [this proposal],” he said in a televised speech Saturday. “The country can’t wait anymore.”Kanaan tackled the criticism that the initiative received from political rivals and Prime Minsiter Tammam Salam, who focused on the need to alter the Constitution.
“Respecting the will of Christians is not a violation of the Constitution. On the contrary, it is a fortification of the Constitution,” he said, highlighting that “three of the four proposals do not need constitutional amendments.”
He said the processes by which Aoun’s suggestions can see the light were discussed with Rai. “The climate was positive. And Rai encourages whatever [solution] could end the vacuum,” he said.
Announcing that he would be heading with the delegation to meet Geagea next, Kanaan emphasized that any of the solutions can only be adopted after consensus between Christian parties.
He said the Parliament had lost the “popular legitimacy” by extending its own mandate twice, suggesting a “return to the people” by “asking the Christians what they want.

Amine Gemayel to step down as leader of Kataeb
Wassim Mroueh| The Daily Star/ May. 19, 2015
BEIRUT: Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel announced Monday that he would not seek another term at the head of one of Lebanon’s oldest political parties, as his son, MP Sami Gemayel, emerged as a likely successor. “I informed members of the political bureau that I would not run for a new term in the middle of June, and my comrades were surprised,” Gemayel said, after chairing the weekly meeting of the party’s political bureau. “But I consider that having new cadres [of officials] serves the party’s interests, particularly given the [current] circumstances and the developments we are witnessing,” added Gemayel, 73. A new president, along with members of the party’s political bureau and other officials, will be elected in the middle of June, when the Kataeb Party holds its 30th general conference to assess policies. Gemayel boasted that the party was one of the few practicing democratic bodies in the region, noting that 400 elected Kataeb representatives vote for the members of the party’s political bureau and other official positions.
“This is a unique democratic experience which the Kataeb Party practices,” Gemayel said. “Several presidents have been elected over the past 80 years. This indicates that [the party] renews itself, and is characterized by a democratic experience that is still alive.”
President of Lebanon from 1982 till 1988, Gemayel is the son of Pierre Gemayel, who founded the Kataeb Party in 1936.
The party was the strongest Christian group during most of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War, in which it was a major participant. Following the death of Pierre Gemayel in 1984, Georges Saade, Munir Hajj and Karim Pakradouni each led the party before Amine Gemayel was elected Kataeb president in 2007. MP Sami Gemayel, Amine’s son, has the best chances of being elected to the top post, Kataeb MP Fadi Habr told The Daily Star, explaining that he possesses all the required qualifications. “In short, Kataeb members and supporters admire the Gemayel family,” Habr said, describing the Gemayels as “a family of holiness on the national level.”“Regardless of the fact that he [Sami Gemayel] is the grandson of the founder of the party and the son of the president, he has proved himself in the party’s bloc,” Habr said. “This is in terms of his boldness, radicalism, clarity and his draft laws against corruption.”
Habr added that aside from being an MP, the 34-year-old Sami Gemayel was a practicing lawyer. “He represented us during talks on the electoral law [in 2013].” Asked about the role of MP Nadim Gemayel, son of assassinated President-elect Bachir Gemayel and Amine’s nephew, Habr said that the party had room for everybody. “We admire Nadim. He is the son of Bachir at the end. I advise him that he always remain positive.” While noting that Nadim Gemayel was “also capable,” Habr said Sami Gemayel was one of the “most capable” in the party.“Nadim knows his limits and is working on developing the party. He is beside Sami and not against him.”Although he will no longer be the party’s leader come June, Amine Gemayel said he would continue to monitor the party’s progress.“I will remain beside the new leadership, in order to achieve additional victories on the national and political levels.”

Iran 'proud' of Qalamoun victory: Khamenei aide
The Daily Star/May. 18, 2015/BEIRUT: The achievements of the Syrian army and Hezbollah in the Qalamoun battles help empower the "axis of resistance," an adviser to Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei said Monday during a one-day visit to Beirut for talks with officials. “We feel very proud as we have been watching in the last few days the new victories that the Lebanese resistance and Syrian army are achieving in Qalamoun,” Ali Akbar Velayati said after meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at his Beirut residence.
“This contributes to strengthening the axis of resistance not only in Lebanon and Syria, but in the whole region and worldwide.” He called on the regional countries supporting extremist groups in Syria to end their assistance.
Velayati, a veteran Iranian diplomat and politician, was received at the airport in the morning by Hezbollah MP Ali Mokdad, representing the party’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. Also at his reception were Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali and Khalil Hamdan, a member of the Amal Movement’s political bureau. “Resolving the political problems in Lebanon concerns the Lebanese themselves, Velayati told reporters at the airport. “We are confident that thanks to Lebanon’s deep-rooted democracy, the country will eventually find a suitable exit [from the existing crisis] and reach an appropriate solution to fill the presidential void.”After his meeting with Berri, the Iranian official headed to the Grand Serail to meet with Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
He will be holding talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun at 7 p.m., and is also expected to meet with Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. Velayati served for 16 years as Iran's foreign minister, and currently heads the Center for Strategic Research, an Iranian think tank on strategy matters that was previously headed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He also ran in Iran's 2013 presidential elections.

Berri Stays Mum on Verdict against Samaha
Naharnet /18.05.15/Speaker Nabih Berri refused to comment on the Military Tribunal's sentence against former Minister Michel Samaha, stressing that Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah didn't inform him yet about his presidential initiative. “I don't comment on the verdicts issued by the judiciary... I abide by this principle since I was a justice minister... to preserve the work of the judiciary and respect it,” Berri said in remarks published in local newspapers on Monday. The tribunal's verdict against Samaha drew the ire of the March 14 alliance, in particular the Mustaqbal Movement that described the sentence as a “joke.”Samaha was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail over terrorism charges, including the time he served since August 2012. The judicial year amounts to nine months.
The speaker stressed that Nasrallah hasn't informed him yet about the presidential initiative that he is mulling. “I don't know it's context,” Berri said. Nasrallah said on Saturday in a televised speech that his ally Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun is trying to propose solutions for the crisis, calling on political parties to discuss them and study them. “No one has an interest in having a vacuum,” he said. Lebanon has been without a president since May last year when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor.
Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the election. Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance and Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting the electoral sessions over the sharp differences.

Rifi Reveals Plans for STL to Study Samaha Case
Naharnet/18.05.15/Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi has revealed that he was working on transferring the terrorism case of former Information Minister Michel Samaha to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Rifi told al-Mustaqbal newspaper published on Monday that “there is a tendency to transfer part” of the file linked to the explosives, which Samaha had transferred to Lebanon to the STL in the Hague. The other part linked to Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged involvement in the case could be transferred to the International Criminal Court, he said. Last week, the military court sentenced Samaha to four-and-a-half years in jail over terrorism charges, including the time he served since August 2012. The tribunal's verdict against Samaha drew the ire of the March 14 alliance in particular the Mustaqbal Movement that described the sentence as a “joke.”Rifi promised to submit a draft-law to the cabinet to dissolve the tribunal after a video was broadcast showing the former minister discussing with undercover police informant Milad Kfouri plans to carry out explosions in Lebanon. The video was an indication that Assad was aware of the plot, Rifi told al-Mustaqbal. “This is an additional documented evidence on Assad's role in crimes other than the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri,” he said. Along with Samaha, the head of Syria's powerful National Security Council, Brig. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, and a Syrian aide were also indicted in the case. Their case was separated from Samaha's because they could not be brought to the court.

Iran eyeing full-force return to oil market once nuclear deal passes
REUTERS/05/18/2015/The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is unlikely to implement a production cut at its next meeting in June, a senior Iranian official said on Monday. Asked if OPEC would cut output at the upcoming June 5 meeting, Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Rokneddin Javadi told Reuters: "I don't think so." Iran, along with Venezuela, has repeatedly called for OPEC to cut output to shore up low prices that have eaten into producers' oil revenues. Javadi's comments signal an admission that the group was unlikely to agree to a reduction, especially after its current strategy has succeeded in curbing non-OPEC output and allowed OPEC to regain market share. OPEC, led by oil kingpin Saudi Arabia, decided at a meeting in November to maintain output and keep global markets amply supplied so that low prices would force high-cost U.S. shale oil producers to cut production first. Javadi indicated later that Iran is still likely in June to push for output reduction or cooperation on the right amount of oil to be delivered to the market.
The meeting could "reinforce cooperation between the members because OPEC is an organization that could make policies for oil price orientation," Javadi told reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Oil and Gas conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Iran hopes its crude oil exports will return to pre-sanctions levels within three months once a deal with major powers to lift an oil embargo is finalized, he said. "We hope we can come back to the export levels that we had before the sanctions," Javadi, who is also the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, told Reuters. "Yes, 2.5 (million barrels per day), around," he said, adding that this could possibly be achieved in three to six months. A recent framework deal on Iran's disputed nuclear program between Tehran and world powers could see sanctions on Iran eventually lifted if a more permanent pact is finalized by a June deadline. The sanctions have more than halved Iranian oil exports since 2012 to about 1 million bpd, mainly to Asia. Iran currently has less than 10 million barrels of crude stored onboard tankers that could be released post-sanctions depending on market conditions, Javadi said. He said the OPEC producer expected to claw back lost market share in Asia and Europe. "It depends on market situation and price level, but we will come back to the traditional trade that we had before," he said, adding that Asia could take more than 50 percent of Iran's exports. Global oil prices touched 2015 highs in early May, but are currently only around half the peaks of June 2014, before a worldwide supply glut and a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries to maintain output sent crude markets tumbling. Discussions on OPEC making room for the return of Iranian oil would depend on whether sanctions were lifted, he said. Iran says that an increase of its oil production will not cause a price crash. It expects other OPEC members to make way for extra barrels, but so far there is no sign that other OPEC members are willing to cut supply. Iran plans to hold a conference in London in September to attract investors for its exploration and production sector, Javadi said. Javadi said he expected the oil price to rise to around $80 a barrel by the end of 2016. "From a commercial point of view, today's prices should be sustained and increase gradually," he said on the sidelines of the Asia Oil and Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur. "But it depends on the political situation and what's going on in the Middle East and Arabian countries."

Report: Saudi Arabia in talks to purchase Pakistani nuclear weapons
By JPOST.COM STAFF/05/18/2015
Saudi Arabia has reportedly held talks with Pakistan for the purchase of nuclear weapons amid the ongoing nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran, according to a US senior official who spoke with The Sunday Times. Tensions in the region have escalated in light of the framework agreement the United States and the other world powers have made with the Islamic Republic, with Saudi Arabia increasingly concerned with the repercussions of a deal that may see the easing of sanctions leaving Iran more legroom to continue developing weapons of mass destruction. The strain in relations was evident when Saudi Arabia's King Salman skipped a major summit in Washington this week, along with the leaders of three other Gulf nations. "For the Saudis the moment has come," The Sunday Times quoted a former US defense official as saying. "There has been a long-standing agreement in place with the Pakistanis and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward." Saudi Arabia is skeptical that any final, comprehensive deal with Iran will curb its nuclear ambitions, with the West's engagement having actually "opened the door to nuclear proliferation," a military source told The Sunday Times The agreement allows Iran to keep 5,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz, and another 1,000 centrifuges at its underground enrichment facility in Fordow. According to one senior British official who also spoke with The Sunday Times, military leadership from all Western countries "assume the Saudis have made the decision to go nuclear." "The fear is that other Middle Eastern powers — Turkey and Egypt — may feel compelled to do the same and we will see a new, even more dangerous, arms race."

Egypt executes six Islamist militants for killing of soldiers
JPOST.COM STAFF/05/18/2015 /Six Islamic militants were executed by Egyptian authorities Sunday after they were convicted of killing army soldiers, despite appeals for clemency amid claims two of them had been in custody at the time of their alleged crimes, according to news publication al-Arabiya. Last March, a military court upheld the death sentences following a trial that convicted the six of carrying out attacks against military personnel in the months after the overthrow of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Morsi, 64, was sentenced to death on Saturday along with more than 100 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood in connection with a mass jail break in 2011. Morsi and his fellow defendants, including the Brotherhood's top leader Mohamed Badie, were convicted for killing and kidnapping policemen, attacking police facilities and breaking out of jail during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The six people executed on Sunday were accused by prosecutors of being part of the Islamic terrorist organization Ansar Beit al-Maqdis based in the Sinai peninsula which pledged its allegiance to ISIS last year. The group has carried out hundreds of attacks against police and soldiers since the army toppled the former Islamist president Morsi. The six were summarily executed by hanging in a Cairo jail, according to al-Arabiya. Human rights groups had tried to appeal for a stay of execution, saying two of the defendants had been in custody at the time of the attack. Amnesty International said the men underwent a "grossly unfair" trial and that the only witness during the trial was a secret police officer, al-Arabiya added. Reuters contributed to this report.

Sooner or Later, Justice Will be Done!
By Walid Joumblatt/Al Anbaa
17 مايو 2015
Dear Uri,
It has been quite a long time that we have not corresponded together.
Actually, I was preparing my testimony for the special international tribunal concerning the murder of the late prime minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri killed 10years ago on the 14th of February 2005. I accused from the first day the Syrian regime having had the painful experience personally when 38 years ago my father was assassinated by the the Syrians, on the 16th of March 1977. What a coincidence. My father was fiercely opposed to Syrian invasion of Lebanon. They came on his blood. Twenty eight years later Rafic Hariri wanted them out of Lebanon according to the Taef agreement. They left on his blood. I had to shake hands with the murderer of my father, Hafez Assad 40 days after the assassination because of Lebanese internal divisions, the right wing Christians parties siding first with the Syrians then used by the Israelis, our side allied to the PLO headed by Yasser Arafat. But as you remember the Syrians were given the green light to invade Lebanon, by the Infamous Henry Kissinger with the purpose of crushing the leftist parties headed by kamal Joumblatt so they succeeded by killing him, and the other purpose was to control and muzzle the PLO presided by Yaser Arafat which they failed to do. Later the job was done by Sharon in the invasion of 1982 that ended up in the departure of the PLO and Arafat from Beirut. Another coincidence. The joint interest of Sharon and Assad to eliminate Arafat and with him the concept of free Palestinian will that could lead to a Palestinian state. Baathist totalitarianism coincides with Zionism in the negation of Palestine. To make the story short, I was able later on at La Hague to deliver a historical trial of Syrian crimes in Lebanon. When Kamal Joumblat was killed there were no international tribunals. Thirty eight years later with my testimony justice in a way was done for his memory, hoping that justice will be done to Rafic Hariri and to all the martyrs who refused Syrian domination.

Salma Hayek: Women earn more than male actors only in porn
By Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Monday, 18 May 2015
Hollywood star Salma Hayek has spoken out against sexism in the film industry, saying the only time women get higher pay than men is in porn. Speaking at a U.N. Women panel at the Cannes Film Festival this week, Hayek – who is also a director, and producer – said: “The only kind of film where women make more money than men is porno. It’s not funny.” “Cinema currently undermines women’s intelligence,” she added, in quotes carried by the Independent as she spoke about the differences in wage distribution between male and female actors. "We can't stand as victims and say we need to make them aware of women. Because guess what? They don't care. "There's only one thing that inspires the people and the power in the industry, and that's money. They have to understand how powerful we are economically. "We have the power to show them we can save this film industry." She revealed sexist experiences she faced throughout her career and accused Hollywood on being incredibly ignorant. She claimed the industry falsely interprets the image of women by ignoring and misunderstanding their different tastes. "I've had movies where the director really wanted me, but the dude didn't approve and I've got pipped out," she said, according to the Telegraph."In scripts, a lot of the time there is a part that's good, that then starts dumbing down. If you get on set and start to make it better, they don't like it."Parker Posey, an actress and musician who attended the U.N. Women panel along with Hayek, agreed with her and added: “We live in very masculine times, rather than a progressive era,” the Guardian reported.Also taking part in the panel were Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and the producers of Cate Blanchett's new film Carol.

As ISIS overtakes Iraqi city, US tries to plays down the impact
REUTERS/05/18/2015 BAGHDAD - Islamic State militants said they had taken full control of the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday in the biggest defeat for the Baghdad government since last summer. In a statement, the group said it had seized tanks and killed "dozens of apostates", its description for members of the Iraqi security forces. Ramadi is the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi signed off on the deployment of Shi'ite militias to attempt to seize back the area, a move he previously resisted for fear of provoking a sectarian backlash. Earlier, security sources said government forces evacuated a key military base after it came under attack by the insurgents, who had already taken one of the last districts still holding out. It was the biggest victory for Islamic State in Iraq since security forces and Shi'ite paramilitary groups began pushing the militants back last year, aided by air strikes from a US-led coalition. The US Defense Department, while not confirming the fall of Ramadi, sought to play down the impact on the broader Iraq military campaign of an Islamic State seizure of the city. "Ramadi has been contested since last summer and ISIL now has the advantage," Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith said, using another acronym for Islamic State. She said the loss of the city would not mean the overall Iraq military campaign was turning in Islamic State's favor, but acknowledged it would give the group a "propaganda boost." "That just means the coalition will have to support Iraqi forces to take it back later," Smith said, adding that the United States was continuing to provide it air support and advice. The Iraqi government had vowed to liberate Anbar after routing the militants from the city of Tikrit last month. But the security forces, which partly disintegrated under an Islamic State onslaught last June, have struggled to gain traction in the vast desert province. An officer who withdrew from the besieged army base said the militants were urging them via loudspeaker to discard their weapons, promising to show mercy in return. "Most of the troops withdrew from the operations command headquarters and Daesh fighters managed to break in from the southern gate," the officer said. Daesh is an Arabic name for Islamic State. "We are retreating to the west to reach a safe area".
Earlier on Sunday, Anbar provincial council member Athal Fahdawi described the situation in Ramadi as "total collapse". It was one of only a few towns and cities to have remained under government control in the vast desert terrain, which borders Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan. Islamic State, which emerged as an offshoot of al Qaeda, controls large parts of Iraq and Syria in a self-proclaimed caliphate where it has massacred members of religious minorities and slaughtered Western and Arab hostages. The United States and its allies have been pounding the militants for months with air strikes in both countries. Washington said on Saturday its special forces had killed a senior Islamic State figure in a raid into Syria. Over a period of 24 hours up to 0500 GMT (0100 EDT) on Sunday, the U.S.-led coalition carried out seven air strikes near Ramadi, according to a statement - the highest number on any single location in Iraq and Syria.The Jerusalem Post annual NY conference- save your seat now with early bird tickets

Secretary General Ban Reaffirms U.N. Commitment to STL
Naharnet/18.05.15/The President and Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have concluded a successful visit to the United Nations in New York, announced the STL in a statement on Monday. Judge Ivana Hrdličková and Daryl Mundis held meetings with the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and senior U.N. officials, as well as with the representatives of several states. The Secretary General reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to the STL as it works to bring those responsible for the crimes under the Tribunal’s mandate to justice. The STL President and Registrar also met the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations, as well as his counterparts from several MENA and other States. In addition they met representatives of the EU. “We are extremely grateful for the strong and enduring support that we receive from the United Nations and so many countries,” said Hrdličková . “The STL has a unique opportunity through the fulfillment of its mandate, to contribute to the rule of law in Lebanon and beyond. I am very grateful for the continued hard work of my fellow judges and all STL staff members in pursuing this goal.”The trial of those accused of carrying out the attack on February 14, 2005 that killed 22 people, including the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, is ongoing at the STL.

Ramadi’s fall opens ISIS road to Baghdad. Jordan warns US air strikes won’t stop the terrorists’ advance
DEBKAfile Special Report May 18, 2015
Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned the Obama administration in an urgent message that US air strikes alone won’t stop the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria and, what is more, they leave his kingdom next door exposed to the Islamist peril. ISIS would at present have no difficulty in invading southern Jordan, where the army is thin on the ground, and seizing local towns and villages whose inhabitants are already sympathetic to the extremist group. The bulk of the Jordanian army is concentrated in the north on the Syrian border. Even a limited Islamist incursion in the south would also pose a threat to northern Saudi Arabia, the king pointed out. Abdullah offered the view that the US Delta Special Forces operation in eastern Syria Saturday was designed less to be an effective assault on ISIS’s core strength and more as a pallliative to minimize the Islamist peril facing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf emirates. debkafile’s Washington sources report that US officials refused to heed Abdullah’s warning and tried to play it down, in the same way as Secretary John Kerry tried Monday, May 18, to de-emphasize to the ISIS conquest of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province. At a news conference in Seoul, Kerry dismissed the Islamists’ feat as a “target of opportunity” and expressed confidence that, in the coming days, the loss “can be reversed.” The Secretary of State’s words were unlikely to scare the Islamists, who had caused more than 500 deaths in the battle for the town and witnessed panicky Iraqi soldiers fleeing Ramadi in Humvees and tanks. Baghdad, only 110 km southeast of Ramadi, has more reason to be frightened, in the absence of any sizeable Iraqi military strength in the area for standing in the enemy’s path to the capital. The Baghdad government tried announcing that substantial military reinforcements had been ordered to set out and halt the Islamists’ advance. This was just whistling in the dark. In the last two days, the remnants of the Iraqi army have gone to pieces – just like in the early days of the ISIS offensive, when the troops fled Mosul and Falujah. They are running away from any possible engagement with the Islamist enemy. The Baghdad-sourced reports that Shiite paramilitaries were preparing to deploy to Iraq's western province of Anbar after Islamic State militants overran Ramadi were likewise no more than an attempt to boost morale. Sending armed Shiites into the Ramadi area of Anbar would make no sense, because its overwhelmingly Sunni population would line up behind fellow-Sunni Islamist State conquerors rather than help the Shiite militias to fight them. Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who arrived precipitately in Baghdad Monday, shortly after Ramadi’s fall, faces this difficulty. Our military sources expect him to focus on a desperate effort to deploy Shiite militias as an obstacle in ISIS’s path to Baghdad, now that the road is clear of defenders all the way from Ramadi. In Amman, King Abdullah Sunday made a clean sweep of senior security officials, firing the Minister of Interior, the head of internal security (Muhabarat) and a number of high police officers. They were accused officially of using excessive violence to disperse demonstrations in the southern town of Maan. The real reason for their dismissal, debkafile’s counter-terror sources disclose, is the decline of these officials’ authority in the Maan district, in the face of the rising influence of extremist groups identified with Al Qaeda and ISIS, in particular.

'No alternative' to Saudi peace plan, says expert
Ynetnews/Smadar Perry
Published: 05.18.15/ Israel News
Former military general in Jordan calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept Saudi plan, which involves dividing Jerusalem and agreeing to right of return.
The Saudi peace initiative first saw light some 13 years ago, and apparently there are still many key figures in the Arab world who would like to see it revived.
"Now that Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu has formed his new government, I call on him to say yes to the Saudi peace initiative. It's alive and well and didn't disappear with the regime change in Saudi Arabia," says Dr. Anwar Eshki, the director of the Jeddah-based Middle East Institute for Strategic Studies.
"King Salman and his senior advisers support it. It's time for Israel to accept it too. There is no alternative peace plan."
A former military general who has also filled various key roles in the Riyadh administration in the past, Eshki, 72, is believed to have very close ties with the Saudi royal family; and he had no qualms about giving an interview to an Israeli newspaper, noting: "The issue is an important one, and we need to convey the message to Netanyahu, the cabinet ministers and the Israeli public that there is a peace plan awaiting their approval."
Eshki gave an exclusive interview to Ynet's sister publication, Yedioth Ahronoth, in Qatar, where he was attending the Doha Forum's economic conference over the weekend.
"If Israel accepts the peace plan and makes a commitment to implement it, 22 Arab states and another 20 Muslim counties will commit to normalizing relations with you," Eshki says. "You need to internalize the fact that we want coexistence between the Arab states and Israel."
And Eshki also had a message for the skeptics who lack faith in his vision: "Saudi Arabia always fulfills the commitments it takes on," he says. "And you will see, when the time comes for normalization, we and another 22 Arab states will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, including commercial cooperation and cultural ties."
According to the Saudi initiative, the brainchild in 2002 of then-crown prince Abdullah, the Israeli-Arab conflict will come to an end in return for an Israeli undertaking to withdraw to the pre-Six-Day War 1967 borders.
Despite being adopted unanimously at the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002, the plan, now known as the Arab Peace Initiative, has yet to elicit an official Israeli response. The reason: It includes the division of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, both of which spark opposition among government officials in Jerusalem.
But now, with a new government in Israel and the crowning of King Salman in January, there are those who believe that it's time to revive the initiative.
"People say that Netanyahu has put together a government of extremists," Eshki says. "That doesn't bother me. On the contrary, perhaps it's best for achieving peace – because if Netanyahu and his ministers accept the plan, there'll be no one to stand in their way."
If Netanyahu does decide to adopt the initiative, Eshki adds, he must do so officially – in an address at the UN or in Jerusalem, for example.
Eshki is well aware of the Israeli reservations. "The peace plan provides for the evacuation of the settlements and their resettling by Palestinians; but there could be land exchanges, in keeping with security requirements and mutual understandings," he says. "And the Palestinians who choose not to return will get financial compensation."
Eshki believes that if Israel were to give a thumbs-up to the initiative in principle, talks over "the problematic issues" would then go ahead under the patronage of Saudi Arabia, the US, Egypt and Jordan.
"The sides, including Israel, will determine where the negotiations will be conducted," he says, adding that the initiative constitutes the "most suitable" political solution because it is based on UN resolutions.

Eli Cohen remembered on 50th anniversary of execution
Of all the members of Israel’s espionage and intelligence community, few are as well known by name if not exactly by deed as the legendary Eli Cohen who was sent to Syria and who was apprehended and executed in Damascus fifty years ago.
Had Syria returned his remains to Israel, Eli Cohen may well have remained one of the anonymous soldiers of Mossad. All attempts to find the exact location of his grave so that his bones could be brought back to Israel for proper Jewish burial have met with failure.
Because this is a landmark year for his family and the nation which he served, President Reuven Rivlin decided to hold the commemorative ceremony at the President’s official residence. This was the first that memorial ceremony was held there. It was attended by Cohen’s widow Nadia, their three children, Cohen’s three brothers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo. Rivlin made the point that few of the anonymous Mossad heroes who have literally put their lives on the line are know to the public. Many of them live in the shadows. Eli Cohen was an exception to the rule. Referring to him as “our brother, a hero of Israel” Rivlin said that Eli Cohen’s name is known to a whole state and his memory is widely perpetuated. “Israel will always remember him as a true hero who risked his life to safeguard Israel’s security and freedom,” said Rivlin, adding that Israel has an eternal obligation to Eli Cohen.
Pardo stressed that whoever has not grown up in the world of secret operations will find it difficult to understand the full significance of what constitutes a Mossad agent. Very few people are suitable for the task which requires the most unique characteristics, he said. Eli Cohen, he continued, has served as a role model for generations of Mossad combatants.