May 30/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
 John 14/27-31: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, "I am going away, and I am coming to you." If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;
but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way."

Bible Quotation For Today/"The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me.
Acts of the Apostles 03/22-26//04/01-04: "Moses said, "The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out from the people." And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, "And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed." When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 29-30/15
Distress Signals By Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah And Pro-Hizbullah Media Reflect Growing Sense Of Existential Danger/E. B. Picali & H. Varulkar/MEMRI/May 29/15
Hezbollah: The end of the beginning/
Mohamed Chebarro/Al Arabiya/May 29/15
The Crisis of the Assad Regime/
Jeffrey White/Washington Institute/May 29/15
The choice Iran faces in the region/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/15
Qassem Soleimani’s tactical ideologies exposed/Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/May 29/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 29-30/15
Vatican envoy, Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, in fresh bid to end Presidential vacuum
Cyprus bomb suspect ‘linked to Hezbollah’
Army to liberate Arsal following political cover

Stop scaring us with ISIS: Geagea tells Nasrallah 
Report: Cyprus Bomb Suspect Linked to Hizbullah

Palmyra prisoners not with ISIS: Ibrahim 
At least 10 Arsal men reportedly join jihadis 
Salameh: Banks won’t allow terror financing
Ibrahim denies ISIS seized more Lebanese 
What's on this weekend in Beirut?
Army Arrests Scores for Illegal Entry and Terror Links
Labor Ministry inspections find over 400 violations this week 
Finally Tony Blair is out: Jumblatt 
Qahwaji: We Won't Tolerate Distortion of Army Sacrifices against Takfiri Terror
Loyalty to Resistance: Confronting Terrorists in Arsal Outskirts is Everyone's Duty
Investors pitch privately run power plants 
ISF: Implementation of Third Phase of Traffic Law in June
Berri Says Lebanon's Politics is 'Inverted Cup'
Lebanon’s presidency as a fortifier against terrorism
Hariri condemns Dammam mosque bombing

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 29-30/15
3 Dead in New IS Suicide Attack on Saudi Shiite Mosque
Saudi security foils terrorist attack on Dammam mosque
ISIS claims Saudi Arabia mosque bombing
ISIS claims Baghdad hotel bombings, 15 dead
Syrian insurgents advance around captured town
Rebels take Ariha from Assad 
U.S., allies target ISIS with 24 air strikes: statement
Iraq: Nineveh governor sacked following ISIS advances
Fighting in northern Mali forces tens of thousands to flee: UN
Palestine drops motion to suspend Israel from FIFA
Qatar can’t stay quiet 
Turkey accused of sending arms to Syrian jihadis
Palestinian refugees from Syria protest UNRWA housing stipends suspension 
Swiss media conference moved due to security risk: police
'There is no Grexit scenario': France's Sapin
Boko Haram clash kills 4 Chad soldiers, 33 Islamists: army
Merkel: Germany will be 'constructive partner' in EU reform

Latest Jihad Watch News
Raymond Ibrahim: Islamic Jizya: Fact and Fiction
Egypt: Explosive goes off next to church
Pakistan: Muslims open fire on Faisalabad church
Ethiopia: Muslims forcibly building mosque on Christian land despite court ruling
Malaysia: For seeking answers on Islam, Muslim gets charged with blasphemy
These People Are Speaking a Strange Language
Islamic State demolishes Christian church in Syria
Freedom, Provocation and Targets
Video: Minneapolis Muslims prefer Sharia, want blasphemy laws in US
Islamic State has 30,000 foreign jihadis from over 100 countries
Graphic: The carnage committed in the name of Allah
Australia: 12 Melbourne Muslimas flee suburbs to join Islamic State

Report: Cyprus Bomb Suspect Linked to Hizbullah
Naharnet/29.05.15/A Lebanese-Canadian man detained in Cyprus after two tons of potential bomb-making material was found in his home was reported by media Friday to be a member of Hizbullah. The Phileleftheros newspaper said the 26-year-old man, who was remanded in custody Thursday, belonged to the Lebanese organization's military wing and had personal links to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. The daily said the man, who has not been named, arrived in Cyprus last week for what he described as a holiday. He was arrested on Wednesday following a period of surveillance and more than 400 boxes of ammonium nitrate -- a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives -- was discovered at his home in Larnaca. The suspect reportedly told police he knew the material was in his basement but claimed it was not his. The Politis daily said authorities had not ruled out that the suspect was planning an attack on Israeli targets on the Mediterranean resort island, which attracts thousands of visitors from nearby Israel each year. "We are investigating every possibility and any links (to extremism), if they exist, will be investigated and evaluated," said Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou. Police sources say the man faces possible charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, membership of a terrorist organization and illegal possession and transfer of explosive materials. Agence France Presse

 Cyprus bomb suspect ‘linked to Hezbollah’
The Daily Star/May. 30, 2015
NICOSIA: Cypriot police suspect that a Lebanese-Canadian man they arrested this week after finding almost two tonnes of ammonium nitrate in his home was a Hezbollah member planning an attack on Israeli interests, local newspapers reported Friday.
The Phileleftheros newspaper said the 26-year-old man, who was remanded in custody Thursday, belonged to the Lebanese organization’s military wing and had personal links to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. Hezbollah did not not comment on the issue.
The daily said the man, who has not been identified, arrived in Cyprus last week for what he described as a holiday. He was arrested Wednesday following a period of surveillance, and more than 400 boxes of ammonium nitrate – a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives – was discovered at his home in Larnaca. The suspect reportedly told police he knew the material was in his basement but claimed it was not his.The Politis daily said authorities had not ruled out that the suspect was planning an attack on Israeli targets on the Mediterranean resort island, which attracts thousands of visitors from nearby Israel each year.

Vatican envoy, Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, in fresh bid to end Presidential vacuum
Hussein Dakroub/Hasan Lakkis/The Daily May. 30, 2015
BEIRUT: A special envoy of Pope Francis arrived in Beirut Friday in the Vatican’s latest attempt to resolve a political crisis that has left Lebanon without a president for more than a year.
Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, the former foreign minister of the Holy See, met shortly after his arrival at the head of a Vatican delegation with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Bkirki to discuss the situation in Lebanon, particularly the yearlong presidential deadlock.
Mamberti is on a weeklong visit for talks with Lebanese officials on the conditions of Christians in Lebanon and the region and the work of Christian spiritual courts in Lebanon, the National News Agency reported.
In a statement at Beirut airport, Mamberti said he would meet a number of Lebanese political leaders to discuss internal Lebanese affairs, particularly the election of a president.
“The presidency issue concerns all parties in Lebanon,” he said. He added that his visit gained “special significance” with regard to the conditions of Christians in Lebanon and the region.
Lebanon Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the presidential stalemate as Parliament has failed since April last year to elect a president over a lack of quorum. Speaker Nabih Berri has called for a new Parliament session next Wednesday to elect a president.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet is unlikely to make any decisions at its next meeting on security appointments and the situation on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, two contentious issues that could paralyze the government’s work, ministerial sources said.
The delayed Cabinet action on these two issues is apparently aimed at giving time for mediators to reach a compromise over the Army commander’s post, currently at the center of a heated debate as Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun staunchly opposes the extension of Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi’s term when it expires on Sept. 23.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam has called the Cabinet to meet Monday to continue discussion of the security appointments and how to deal with jihadis based on Arsal’s outskirts after it failed to act on these two topics during its session Thursday.
While the sensitive issue of Arsal could be resolved, the dispute over the appointment of a new chief of the Internal Security Forces, replacing Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, who retires on June 5, could threaten Cabinet stability, the sources said.
In a bid to break the deadlock over the Army Command post, efforts have been intensified to reach a compromise based on a proposal by MP Walid Jumblatt which calls for appointing Brig. Gen. Shamel Roukoz, Aoun’s son-in-law, who heads the Army Commando Unit, as commander in exchange for the FPM leader dropping his candidacy for the presidency, the sources said.
In an interview with the electronic newspaper Al-Modon Friday, Jumblatt said he supported the appointment of Roukoz as Army commander if this step served the goal of maintaining stability and civil peace in the country.
A number of FPM lawmakers said that the final decision to appoint a new Army commander, namely Roukoz, is in the hands of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, adding that the next few days will reveal how the head of the Future Movement will act.
The MPs stressed that a tradeoff between the Army Command and the presidency is not on Aoun’s agenda at all.
Salam’s forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia Tuesday at the head of a delegation including Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, provides a good opportunity to discuss the issue of security and military appointments and other topics with Hariri and senior Saudi officials, they said.
Meanwhile, a delegation from Arsal’s notables and mayor led by Future MPs Jammal Jarrah and Ziad Qaderi met with Salam and Machnouk, amid calls by ministers from Aoun’s bloc and Hezbollah on the Army to take action to oust ISIS and Nusra Front militants entrenched on the town’s outskirts. “Yesterday, the Lebanese Army entered Arsal and was met with roses and rice. The residents were extremely happy with the Army being among them. Also, Syrian brothers in Arsal joined the joy of welcoming the Army,” Jarrah told reporters after meeting Salam at the Grand Serail. He rejected charges that Arsal is “a den of terror” beyond the state’s authority. “The Lebanese Army yesterday carried out a massive deployment in Arsal and set up patrols and checkpoints to prove to all skeptics that the state, with its Army and security forces, is present in Arsal and all its areas.”

Berri Says Lebanon's Politics is 'Inverted Cup'
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri described the political situation in Lebanon as an “inverted cup of water” but stressed that the dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal Movement was guaranteeing stability. “The country is functioning in reverse order and illogically,” Berri, whose remarks were published in local dailies on Friday, told his visitors. “In most countries, political stability reflects (positively) on security,” he said. “But the situation in our country is similar to an inverted cup of water, where unlike the political situation, there is security and stability,” Berri added. The speaker praised the talks being held under his auspices between al-Mustaqbal and Hizbullah since December, saying “stability and security wouldn't have been achieved without this dialogue.” On whether he had fears that rising political tension between the rival parties would have repercussions on the talks, Berri said: “No one can stop the dialogue which enjoys Iranian and Saudi sponsorship.” “No one will be able to paralyze it. Shortly, the dialogue is an axiom,” he told his visitors. Asked why the dialogue does not reflect on the government and its productivity, Berri replied: “Let it first reflect on the parliament.”“The basic problem is the absence of a president. That's why (MPs) should head (to parliament) to elect a head of state,” he said. The country's top Christian post has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended a year ago.

Salameh: Banks won’t allow terror financing
The Daily Star/May. 30, 2015/BEIRUT: Central Bank governor Riad Salameh reassured that Lebanese authorities are tightening measures to stamp out money laundering and terrorism funding. “Lebanon is fully committed to all international decisions and resolutions in terms of money laundering and terrorism funding. We won’t accept any account of individual or group which is linked to terrorism activity and all banks are abiding by these guidelines,” Salameh told a French TV station during his visit to Paris.
The governor stressed that authorities are also monitoring closely all cash movements across the border, especially in cases that involve large sums of money. Last year, the Lebanese authorities lifted the banking secrecy on 13 bank accounts for suspicion of money laundering, terrorism funding and financial embezzlement. Lebanese bankers say that U.S. authorities are deeply concerned about the financial capabilities of ISIS and have urged all countries in the region to strengthen monitoring measures along their borders.
Banks have emphasized the need for authorities and security forces to also monitor any cash movement across the border, saying that it is very unlikely that ISIS or any terrorist organization would attempt to transfer money through Lebanese banks.
Salameh also said that Lebanon is benefiting from the drop in interest rates in the international markets, noting that the Central Bank has managed to sell all its sovereign bonds at acceptable rates.
He added that there was considerable demand for the Eurobonds from both local and international investors.

At least 10 Arsal men reportedly join jihadis
The Daily Star/May. 29, 2015 /BEIRUT: At least 10 men from the northeastern border town of Arsal have reportedly joined Syria-based Islamist militants fighting against Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon, according to a local Lebanese daily. As-Safir newspaper Friday quoted sources as saying that Lebanese Army Intelligence has monitored more than 10 young men heading from Arsal toward the town’s outskirts over the past two days. Arsal has been back in the headlines in recent weeks, with Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warning that his party will take matters into its own hands if the Army does not drive out the militants entrenched in the rugged region around the town. March 14 officials have criticized Hezbollah for its offensive launched alongside the Syrian army earlier this month to rid the border Qalamoun region of jihadi groups. March 14, which backs Syria's opposition, says only the Lebanese Army can protect the country's borders, arguing that Hezbollah's actions in Syria endanger Lebanon. Lebanon’s Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Thursday assured that political bickering over key security appointments would not affect the military’s will to confront terrorists along the border with Syria.

At least 10 Arsal men reportedly join jihadis
The Daily Star/May. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: At least 10 men from the northeastern border town of Arsal have reportedly joined Syria-based Islamist militants fighting against Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon, according to a local Lebanese daily. As-Safir newspaper Friday quoted sources as saying that Lebanese Army Intelligence has monitored more than 10 young men heading from Arsal toward the town’s outskirts over the past two days. Arsal has been back in the headlines in recent weeks, with Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warning that his party will take matters into its own hands if the Army does not drive out the militants entrenched in the rugged region around the town. March 14 officials have criticized Hezbollah for its offensive launched alongside the Syrian army earlier this month to rid the border Qalamoun region of jihadi groups. March 14, which backs Syria's opposition, says only the Lebanese Army can protect the country's borders, arguing that Hezbollah's actions in Syria endanger Lebanon. Lebanon’s Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Thursday assured that political bickering over key security appointments would not affect the military’s will to confront terrorists along the border with Syria.

Labor Ministry inspections find over 400 violations this week
The Daily Star/May. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Labor Ministry Friday announced that it had discovered 467 labor law violations during inspections this week. A ministry statement said the inspections, aimed at protecting Lebanese labor, were carried out at engineering companies, banks, construction sites, gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants and furniture stores. It said several businesses were referred either to judicial or security authorities for employing foreigners - Syrian, Bangladeshi, Indian and Egyptian – without work permits.
The crackdown comes after Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi issued a warning earlier this month calling on institutions to respect Lebanese labor law and prioritize the employment of Lebanese after unemployment rate hit its highest level in decades.

Finally Tony Blair is out: Jumblatt
The Daily Star/May. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt took to Twitter Friday to express his relief at former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's resignation as Middle East peace envoy. “Finally Tony Blair is out. The one who destroyed Iraq and covered Israeli crimes on Gaza is leaving,” Jumblatt tweeted Friday. “I do not know how people still believe that Blair is credible,” he added. “It seems you have a lot of idiots.” Jumblatt lamented the fact the some Arab leaders would still meet with Blair and seek his advice. “He is still being consulted by some Arab leaders. On what? On rubbish, [and still] gets financial largesse,” he wrote in his tweet. Tony's Blair resignation as Middle East peace envoy has also been widely welcomed by Palestinians, who argue that his term was mostly useless. Some Israelis also agree that Blair failed to accomplish much. For the past eight years the former prime minister had been tasked by the Mideast Quartet to help mediate a peaceful settlement to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet - composed of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States - had appointed Blair to help garner support for the Palestinian economy and institutions in preparation for eventual statehood. But the Quartet's goal of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel has not been met, and talks between the two sides have been frozen since April 2014. A Quartet statement Wednesday said Blair planned "to step aside" as the official representative for the peace process but would continue to plan an informal role in mediating between the Palestinians and Israel.

Palmyra prisoners not with ISIS: Ibrahim
The Daily Star/May. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: Any Lebanese inmates previously held in Palmyra Prison were moved by the Syrian authorities to another prison before the ISIS’s militants arrived and took over the Syrian city, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said Friday. “These claims are totally unfounded,” he said, when asked about reports that claimed the prisoners were taken by ISIS. “In our calls with the relevant officials in Syria ... they stressed that they had moved all the prisoners [before ISIS arrived].” Although the Syrian government has never officially acknowledged holding any Lebanese captives, dozens were believed to be kept in ambiguous circumstances inside the prison, with their identities kept from the public. They are considered “missing” by their Lebanese families. Syrian communist intellectual Yassin al-Haj Saleh, who spent a year in the prison in 1996, described it as a place that “literally eats men,” and said it was “worse that the house of the dead described by Dostoyevsky.”Ibrahim, who held a news conference after a tour of the Notre Dame University campus Friday, also denied all rumors circulating about the negotiations for the release of Lebanese servicemen held hostage by jihadis in Arsal’s outskirts. Families who were allowed visit their captive relatives were reportedly told by the kidnappers that Ibrahim, who is leading the talks from Lebanon’s side, was not serious about the talks. “These rumors are part of the negotiations, part of the pressure, and we will not give them any importance,” he said. “If you want to look for honesty in the negotiations, you will never find someone more honest than the General Secretariat of the General Security.”He expressed optimism that the crisis will reach a successful conclusion, saying the negotiations with Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is currently holding 16 captives, were progressing in “solid steps.”“I am confident, if things remain going the way they did one hour before I got here, that we will see a success soon,” he said. As for the talks with ISIS, who in turn is holding 9 soldiers and policemen, Ibrahim said they kicked off but they were still far behind the negotiations with Nusra. The servicemen were kidnapped during deadly clashes between the two groups and the Lebanese Army in Arsal last August. The fundamentalist militants originally kidnapped 37 soldiers, but 8 were freed and four executed, two by each group.

ISIS claims Saudi Arabia mosque bombing
Reuters/May. 29, 2015/ABU DHABI: ISIS militants claimed responsibility for an attack Friday on a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia's Dammam in which four people were killed. The Interior Ministry said a car exploded outside al-Anoud mosque in Dammam during noon prayers on Friday, while witnesses said a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up in the mosque's parking lot when guards stopped him from entering. The ministry said four people were killed in the blast, which set several cars ablaze. Residents circulated pictures of the body of a man believed to be the suicide bomber as well as pictures of black clouds of smoke billowing over a parking lot outside the mosque. A video posted on social media showed the congregation inside the mosque reacting with shock and alarm to the noise of the explosion outside the building. An ISIS statement named the suicide bomber as Abu Jandal al-Jizrawi and said he had managed to reach his target despite heightened security. ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing last week at a Shiite mosque in al-Qadeeh village, near al-Qatif city, that killed 21 and wounded nearly 100 in the bloodiest militant attack in the kingdom in years. ISIS openly acknowledges it is trying to stir sectarian confrontation as a way of hastening the overthrow of the ruling Al Saud family, and has urged young Saudi Sunnis in the kingdom to attack targets including Shiites. Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, emir of neighboring Kuwait, said Wednesday sectarian strife was the most serious threat facing Muslims and called for immediate action to tackle it. Some commentators in Saudi Arabia discussing the Qadeeh bombing have said the kingdom has not done enough to crack down on online abuse of Shiites, a discourse which Shiites say provides an incubator for violence against the minority sect. ISIS sympathizers exchanged photos of the scene on social media, saying the attack was targeting "rejectionsists" - a term usually used by the militant group or Al-Qaeda. Both groups view Shiites as heretics. Sunni power Saudi and Shiite Iran are locked in a tussle for influence in the region, where wars have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives mainly in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. State news agency SPA quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman as saying security forces became suspicious of a car parked near the mosque which exploded as they walked towards it, killing four people and setting cars beside it on fire. One of those killed was suspected of being the driver. Activists said young men conducting searches at the mosque began to suspect someone trying to enter the mosque dressed in women's clothes and stopped him. They said the bomber turned away and exploded between cars, killing at least two people and setting several cars on fire. They identified one of the victims as Abdel-Jalil Taher al-Arbash and said he had recently returned from studying in the United States.

Syrian insurgents advance in areas around captured town: activists
Reuters/May. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: Insurgents who captured the last government-held town in Syria's Idlib province celebrated inside on Friday and made more advances in surrounding areas, in a further blow to the stretched army and allied militia. The "Army of Fatah" alliance which includes al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front, the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group and other factions, captured Ariha town Thursday night as the Syrian military pulled back. The army has lost large parts of the northwestern province to insurgents since late March, when the provincial capital fell to Army of Fatah, a name which refers to Islamic conquest. The recent advances have brought insurgents closer to the coastal Latakia province, President Bashar Assad's ancestral homeland and an area of importance to his government.
The army and allied militia have increasingly focused on defending Syria's western flank which includes Latakia, Homs city and Damascus further south. By Friday the insurgents had advanced further, capturing at least four villages close to Ariha in heavy clashes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and social media accounts linked to groups in the alliance reported. The Observatory, a Britain-based group which has a network of contacts on the ground, said the insurgents had killed at least 18 pro-government fighters in clashes in the Ariha area and killed another 13 off the battlefield. The Syrian air force also carried out strikes in the area, the Observatory added. Images seen by Reuters from inside Ariha Friday showed a fighter climbing a flagpole to raise a Nusra Front flag in the town's central square as fighters cheered below him. Another showed men with guns sitting on a pavement. Other images showed people, including the elderly, women and children, crammed into pickup trucks and tuk-tuks with their belongings, leaving the town. They had to pass through insurgent checks before leaving. Syrian state television said Thursday government forces had evacuated Ariha and withdrawn to defensive positions outside the town after battling Nusra Front fighters. Its report on developments on Friday did not mention Ariha but said the military had attacked Nusra Front in the southwestern Deraa province and the Damascus countryside, killing many fighters and destroying their equipment. The government's losses in Idlib have been compounded by sweeping advances by ISIS into government-held areas of central Syria. The group seized the ancient city of Palmyra, or Tadmur, last week and took control of the last government-held border crossing with Iraq.

The Crisis of the Assad Regime
Jeffrey White/Washington Institute
May 29, 2015
Damascus faces a long decline unless major factors change relating to regime strategy, additional resources from allies, or a collapse in rebel unity of effort.
Last week, the Bashar al-Assad regime suffered two significant defeats at the hands of two different armed opposition forces: the first to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) at Palmyra in eastern Homs province, and the second to Jaish al-Fatah forces, to which it lost its last major foothold in Idlib province. While these defeats do not signal the regime's imminent demise, they do indicate that the war is running against it and that a long recession has likely begun, leading to the state's collapse or contraction.
The regime and its allies will fight back and will likely have some successes on some fronts of the war, but after more than four years of fighting basic factors in the conflict are tilting against the regime and the regime's capacity to redress the balance. It would require major changes in the situation for this to be stopped or reversed, including: a shift to a strategy of consolidation, a significant increase in commitment of forces by the regime's allies, reversing the upward trend in rebel capabilities, or outside diplomatic intervention to freeze or resolve the conflict.
The Elements of Regime Military Failure
Analysis of the fighting points to five major factors behind the regime's military decline.
Failing strategy. The regime's military strategy has hinged on its abilities to bring about greater attrition for its enemies, mobilize greater resources, and hold key positions. This approach has previously served the regime reasonably well, but as indicated above, it has begun to fail; adherence to it is costing the regime significantly. In particular, the regime spreads its forces thinly, leaving them exposed to isolation and defeat, while boosting the strength of its enemies.
Failing operations. Regime forces are failing at the operational level. Offensives southwest of Damascus and around Aleppo this spring produced small gains with substantial regime casualties. Defensive operations in Idlib and eastern Homs were unsuccessful, leading to the loss of major positions, again with substantial regime casualties and loss of weapons and ammunition. An exception is the current offensive in the Qalamoun area, which relies primarily on Hezbollah forces, planning, and determination. Regime forces are strictly in a supporting role here, providing airstrikes and artillery support but not engaged in serious ground combat.
Failing forces. Along with faltering operations, regime forces are being outfought in individual actions. Regular army units and irregular units alike appear to lack offensive spirit and are even showing signs of halfhearted defense. And even strong defensive positions such as Wadi Daif and Hamadiya and the Mastumah military camp in Idlib province have fallen surprisingly quickly. The old tactical formulas built on superiority of heavy weapons and airpower are no longer yielding the same positive results. Regime units such as Republican Guard formations, the "Tiger Force," and the "Desert Hawks" are still capable of serious fighting, but these represent probably less than 10 percent of Syrian forces and have only a limited capability to affect the broad military situation.
Improving opponents. Regime opponents are much more capable than in late 2012, the last time they seriously threatened the regime.
While the regime still enjoys advantages in terms of aircraft, heavy armor, and artillery, opposition forces are now heavily armed with weapons taken from regime forces and some key systems (e.g., antitank guided missiles) provided from external sources. Major rebel offensive actions are normally "combined arms" affairs featuring tanks, artillery, mortars and other heavy weapons working with infantry.
Coordination and cooperation among rebel forces, especially in the north and south, has also improved significantly. The rebels are acting in concert at times, in places, and on a scale they could not before. The Islamist Jaish al-Fatah in Idlib province and its allies, and the Southern Front in the south, are the best examples of this. To this must be added the ability of ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, to implement its own strategy with well-conceived operations against regime forces in the east. Never before in the war has the regime faced capable and coherent forces in the east, north, and south.
Rebels have become better at taking regime positions and keeping the ones they have. In the Idlib offensive, the rebels seized a number of regime tactical defensive positions, from small checkpoints to major strongpoints, as well as urban areas (Idlib, Jisr al-Shughour, Ariha) long held by the regime. This indicates improving operational and tactical performance by rebel forces based in part on better arms and better ability to coordinate their use, but also on the improving fighting qualities of rebel units. In terms of discipline, cohesion, leadership, and motivation, some rebel forces and ISIS forces in general appear superior to regime regular and irregular forces. This generally translates to defeat in battle for regime forces, except where high-quality regime units or allied forces are present.
Armed opposition logistics, a traditional weak point, appear to have improved to the point of allowing sustained offensive operations. This is a result of improved foreign assistance, reportedly from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and the opposition's ability to acquire substantial amounts of arms and ammunition from regime forces as a result of battle. Most of the opposition's heavy weapons have been acquired through capture either in Syria or, in the case of ISIS, Syria and Iraq.
Failure in battle. The regime has been performing less well in battle, except where it is either supported by allied forces or allied forces are in the lead, as in the ongoing Hezbollah-driven Qalamoun operations.
As noted, the regime has suffered a string of recent important defeats in Idlib province to a coalition of rebel forces dominated by Islamists, and in eastern Homs province to ISIS. In both cases, the regime's opponents carried out operations involving a sequence of battles to inflict strategic defeats on the regime. In Idlib, the operation involved successful battles for Idlib city, Jisr al-Shughour city, and Ariha city. In eastern Homs, regime forces were defeated by ISIS at Sukhna and Palmyra.
Net effect: declining regime capabilities. Regime military capabilities are on the decline. Intervention by its allies has prevented this trend from becoming fatal, but that may be unsustainable. Only where Hezbollah troops are directly committed to combat does the regime enjoy offensive success, and as the early spring 2015 fighting southwest of Damascus showed, not even that guarantees success. Defensively, the regime does better, but it has had significant failures in recent defensive battles in Idlib, Homs, and Deraa provinces.
Game Changers
The war in Syria has been characterized by many twists and turns: The rebels looked near defeat in early 2012, the regime near defeat in late 2012. The regime fared well in 2013 and part of 2014, and is now failing in 2015. While the regime looks set for a long recessional ending, its position could still be improved by certain variables.
The regime could change its strategy by withdrawing forces from vulnerable positions in areas not of critical military importance. This would include its forces in Hasaka and Deir al-Zour provinces, and those in the salients in Deraa and Idlib provinces, and perhaps even Aleppo province. The troops and resources freed up could be used to bolster defenses in more important areas or for offensive operations. This consolidation, representing a major change in regime strategy, would mean the sacrifice of three to four provincial capitals and local forces working with the regime. While politically unpalatable, it may well become necessary.
The regime's allies could, in turn, provide additional forces to offset its losses and enhance its fighting qualities. Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah's May 24 speech seemed to indicate a willingness to commit more forces, and opposition sources claim Hezbollah has already increased its forces in Syria. Iran could potentially arrange for more personnel from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and could commit more of its own personnel. Such steps could stabilize the regime's military situation and, with still greater numbers, allow it to go on the offensive. Yet the regime's external opponents could offset Syrian gains by boosting their own support to the rebels.
Central to recent rebel success has been increased unity of effort. If this collapses, the rebels will be less capable of successfully mounting serious operations against the regime. But the regime cannot easily effect such an outcome through its own devices. And whatever happens to other opposition forces, ISIS will remain highly purposeful and effective.
The regime could also benefit from a serious negotiating process, especially one that includes a ceasefire and allows it time to rest, refit, and realign its forces. The eagerness of many in the West and the United Nations to achieve a "political solution," and the potential for sheer exhaustion among the Syrian people and combatants, suggests this is at least a possibility.
Outlook and Conclusion
In the near term, the regime will likely see further setbacks in Idlib and eastern Homs provinces, with the situation in Homs being the more serious. Should ISIS decide to seize the regime's positions in Deir al-Zour, it will likely succeed in wresting the entire province from the regime.
The midterm could see the decline or loss of the regime's position in western Aleppo province, and further erosion of its position in northern and eastern Hama province. Regime defeat in Aleppo, although the biggest potential blow, would not necessarily mean the war's end.
In the long term, the war will increasingly impinge on core regime-held areas, including Latakia province, western Hama and Homs provinces, and locations in and around Damascus city. The regime will try hard to hold these places, and rebel victories will come hard, especially if the regime's allies provide reinforcements.
The regime's short- and even long-term prospects seem dim, even as it could still be saved by some combination of the factors discussed earlier. Most likely is a long decline characterized by lost battles, lost positions, and unrecoverable attrition. Regime opponents, meanwhile, seem set for a long war and increased success on Syria's battlefields.
U.S. policymakers are given to saying the Syrian conflict has no military solution, but in fact such a "solution" is emerging. Some combination of the regime's armed opponents will likely win -- that is, drive the regime out of existence or perhaps into a Hezbollah-protected rump state on the Mediterranean coast. Eventually, the regime's opponents could move to destroy this rump state, which would likely be unstable and unviable.
Military developments will create a new political situation in Syria that the winners, likely excluding Assad, will need to sort out. Exactly what this political situation will resemble is impossible to say, but it will be complex and most likely violent.
*Jeffrey White is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute and a former senior defense intelligence officer.

The choice Iran faces in the region
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 29 May, 2015
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani this week launched a stinging attack on critics of his administration’s foreign policy and reminded everyone that politics was all about choice.
“This government has chosen moderation and peaceful cooperation, and non-intervention in the affairs of other nations,” he asserted. At the same time he accused “a small minority with big microphones” in Tehran of promoting a perverted version of Iranian foreign policy with “fiery slogans” and “extremist language.”
There is no doubt that Iran has done much damage to itself and to others by overindulging in “fiery slogans” and “extremist language.” In many cases its bark has been more harmful than its bite. But in every case Iran paid a high price for the shenanigans of self-styled revolutionaries drugged by a sick ideology.
Nevertheless, to claim that the trouble is only with “fiery slogans” and “extremist language” may be a bit disingenuous.
The Khomeinist regime is also involved in actions that by no stretch of imagination could be described as “moderate” or “peaceful”.
There is no need to catalog all the harm that Khomeinist foreign policy has done to Iran, and so many other countries. This is a grim record, from the holding of hundreds of foreign hostages—ranging from Americans to Koreans passing by French and German citizens—and terrorist operations from Turkey to Argentina to the creation of militias in half a dozen countries.
What should concern us now is whether or not Rouhani is sincere in his denunciation of that “small minority with big microphones.”
That sincerity could only be tested by concrete choices and actions. In that context, two issues stand out: Yemen and Syria.
In Yemen, Rouhani no doubt realizes that the plan to re-enact the Lebanese scenario by creating a state-within-the-state based on a Yemeni version of Hezbollah has failed. There is no way Tehran could impose the Houthis as the arbiter of Yemen’s destiny. It is also clear that the international community, not to mention nations in the region, do not buy the Iranian narrative about Yemen. Tehran’s massive efforts in the region, and beyond, to garner diplomatic recognition for the Houthis have led nowhere.
In that context, Tehran’s policy of sabotaging the political process that might lead to a settlement acceptable to a majority of Yemenis simply makes no sense. The best that such a policy could achieve is to prolong the conflict, albeit on a lower scale.
The second issue is that of Syria.
The official media in Tehran now admit that the self-styled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad now controls no more than 15 to 20 per cent of the national territory. In other words, he has been reduced to the position of one faction leader among many. The costly policy of perpetuating the fiction that Assad is president of Syria has brought no profit for Iran. By betting on a dead horse, Tehran has turned the overwhelming majority of Syrians against Iran. At the same time, it has prolonged the deadly conflict by financing and arming Assad’s losing faction.
Tehran’s “Assad-or-nothing” policy is doomed. Government sources in Tehran leak information about the increasing difficulty of bankrolling the Assad faction especially when Iran itself suffers from cash-flow problems. Tehran is also facing manpower problems with the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah, which has suffered heavy losses, reporting growing difficulties in recruiting volunteers for Syria.
Hopes that the Shiite community in Afghanistan might provide the needed cannon-fodder have also dimmed in recent weeks, despite the fact that Tehran has announced it would treat the families of Afghan “martyrs” in Syria as families of Iranian “martyrs.”
Sending Iranian “volunteers for martyrdom” in large numbers is also difficult and could risk a violent backlash at home. The regime is unable to explain why it is in Iran’s national interest to help Assad kill Syrians.
Earlier this week, even Russia, which has so far sided with Assad, indicated it was looking for other options. Last Monday, in a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to join a new initiative to end the Syrian tragedy. The formula according to which there is no place for Assad in the future of Syria is gaining ground both in Europe and the Middle East.
Even in realpolitik terms, it would be foolish for Iran to remain on a sinking ship.
Some analysts in Tehran believe that Rouhani is deluding himself by thinking that a deal with the US on the nuclear issue would enable Iran to assume regional leadership with tacit support from President Barack Obama. This is why he is still endorsing policies on Syria and Yemen that were developed before he became president.
It would be bad news if Rouhani were that naïve. Even if a nuclear deal is stitched at the last minute, Iran’s policy in Yemen and Syria has failed and no amount of support from a moribund Obama administration could reverse the trend.
Also, some analysts believe that Rouhani’s influence on shaping Iranian policy on crucial issues, including Syria, Yemen and Iraq, is minimal at best and at worst non-existent.
These analysts site a number of examples to back their claim. One such example came last month when Assad sent a big delegation to Tehran to demand more money and manpower.
The faction of which Rouhani is member encouraged mood music that was negative about Assad and his demands. A few days later, “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei sent his foreign policy adviser Ali-Akbar Velayati to Damascus to sooth an aggrieved Assad.
If that analysis is correct, Rouhani needs to put his own house in order before talking of “moderation” and “international cooperation.”
In other words, the Khomeinist regime can no longer play the role of both a responsible nation and an adventurous revolution.
**Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.

Qassem Soleimani’s tactical ideologies exposed
Majid Rafizadeh?Al Arabiya
Friday, 30 May 2015
Qassem Soleimani, Iranian military leader, ideologue, and commander in chief of the Quds force- a branch of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps that conducts extraterritorial military and clandestine operations- has been coming out of his shell and becoming more vocal in stating his opinions.
Earlier this week, the general criticized the U.S. for its failure to confront ISIS and boasted about Iran’s stance in combating extremism in the region. The Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying: "Today, in the fight against this dangerous phenomenon, nobody is present except Iran."
His latest statements reflect the long-standing intention of the Quds Force and General Soleimani, to justify Iranian military presence in other countries as well as to spread the revolutionary ideology of the Islamic Republic through projecting Iran as the savior of the Muslim world, and the mostazafan (meaning the oppressed).
Military and ideological shift: From soft power to hard power
Nevertheless, it is crucial to point out that there has been a tactical and strategic shift in Soleimani and other Iranian military leaders’ operations recently. While the Islamic Republic used to wield power through its ideology, after the election of pragmatist Hassan Rowhani and after the nuclear negotiations initiated in 2013, the Islamic Republic’s military leaders began the reversal course of spreading their ideology through power.
In other words, in the past, Iran utilized its revolutionary principles to gain popularity in the region, by relying on soft power to gain influence in other countries in the Middle East.
General Soleimani and other Iranian military leaders have created a vicious circle in the region
However, in the last few years, Iran has shifted to increasingly deploying its power (mainly military) to spread its ideology. It has shifted to deploying hard power. This phenomenon is new, concerning political and ideological calculations of Iranian leaders.
And General Soleimani is a major figure in fulfilling this agenda through extraterritorial and clandestine military operations, as well as through reportedly supporting, arming, and financing Shiite extremist groups.
Iran’s tactical and strategic military shift – to spread its revolutionary principles and ideologies through military and hard power rather than soft power – is a main reason behind the decreasing popularity and increasing resentment towards the Islamic Republic from average members of public in the region. While Iran used to bear some popularity among them, Tehran’s direct military influence and intervention in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria has significantly changed the image of Iran in the region.
It is crucial to point out that Soleimani and Iranian military leaders’ reliance on hard power led to unintended consequences, having a direct link to the creation of groups such as ISIS, as well as to fueling extremism in the region.
One can make the argument that Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad, who continues to commit atrocities and crimes against humanity in Syria, is the major reason behind the increasing influence of ISIS and other extremist groups.
Justifying Iran’s increasing military influence
In order to vindicate Iran’s increasing military influence, the general stated that the Islamic Republic should assist nations, which are suffering from the actions of ISIS. He added, “We should immunize our borders against this great evil and we should help those countries that are suffering under Daesh,” the Arabic acronym used as an alternative name for ISIS.
In the past few weeks, ISIS fighters have been capable of capturing crucial cities in Iraq and Syria. While lashing out at other forces for not fighting ISIS well enough, Soleimani diverted attention from Iran’s role of increasing military interventions, and he did not point to Iran’s strategic, military, and tactical methods which have indeed played a crucial role in fueling extremism in the region. He stated "How is it that America claims to be protecting the Iraqi government, when a few kilometers away in Ramadi, killings and war crimes are taking place and they are doing nothing?" He added, "Obama has not done a damn thing so far to confront Daesh: doesn't that show that there is no will in America to confront it?"
But General Soleimani’s recent statements are aimed at justifying the Islamic Republic’s increasing on-the-ground military presence in other Arab nations including Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.
While the Iranian military continues to control upper security and military ranks in Iraq and Syria, and reportedly send armament to the Shiite militia groups including the Houthis and Badr, regional security and geopolitical concerns regarding Iran’s increasing military influence and infiltration in Arab countries have ratcheted up and created more tension and conflict in the Middle East. The latest’s statements by General Soleimani were intended to avert such criticisms.
Soleimani’s underlying strategies and military tactics in operating in foreign countries, have been driven by influencing the socio-political and socio-economic process of other Arab countries through the Quds Force support and assistance in establishing Shiite militia groups in several countries.
Soleimani does not solely seek to take military control or increase the influence of the Iranian leaders in other Arab countries. His other fundamental objective has been to spread the revolutionary ideologies of the Islamic Republic and the office of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, through military interventions. From his perspective, these ideological objectives can be best achieved by making alliances and strengthening Shiite militia groups across the region.
General Soleimani and other Iranian military leaders have created a vicious circle in the region; the more Iran utilizes Shiite militia groups and the more Iran deploys its military in other nations, the more it fuels extremism and the creation of militia groups which in return would fight against Iran and destabilize the region. This vicious circle can lead to a major conflagration in the region.

Hezbollah: The end of the beginning
Mohamed Chebarro/Al Arabiya
Friday, 29 May 2015
For three decades, Hezbollah has influenced and colored the political scene of the tiny country of Lebanon. The “Party of God” evolved from advocating the ethos of the 1979 Iranian revolution and applying the orders of Iran’s supreme leader, among Lebanon’s Shiite community in the 1980s. In the early 90s, Hezbollah embraced Lebanon’s post-civil war arrangement and became part of the political system embracing the democratic, republican constitution and sent lawmakers to parliament. In the early 2000s, Hezbollah became the symbol for Lebanon’s liberation movement and struggle against Israel, and the popularity of its Supreme Leader Hassan Nasrallah extended beyond Lebanon and reached most Arab countries. Nasrallah’s latest attacks on friends and foes show a schism, not a fracture in his leadership. After former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination in 2005, Hezbollah took off its mask as a Lebanese movement and pursued a clear policy to support the Assad regime’s proxy control of Lebanon. Later, they became Iran’s pawn to spearhead a proxy war taking place in the post-Arab Spring scene between Persian Iran and the core Arab states, and what many think wrongly is a war between Sunni-Shiite Islam. The latest speeches by Hezbollah’s Nasrallah echo the tension and pressure felt within the ranks of its supporters: namely, the Lebanese Shiites. The numbers of those killed in action in Syria, Iraq and maybe Yemen is pushing questions about role of Hezbollah and the Lebanese Arab Shiites in the region.
A new era
Nasrallah’s latest fiery speeches herald a new era – and maybe one could even call it the end of the beginning as it is clear that Shiite Lebanese support is dimming. The voices of Sunni and Druze allied to Hezbollah shied away recently from endorsing the militant group’s vocal attacks on the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and Bahrain. Nasrallah’s latest attacks on friends and foes show a schism, not a fracture in his leadership. Those comments demonstrate a certain impatience at the lack of progress in Syria, and the intransigence of allies and long-term backers to chip in and help. The strong vocabulary used to describe dissenters to his calls for general mobilization to meet his Iranian patron’s effort to prop up a waning Assad regime seem to be the trigger. Despite constantly reminding Christians - more than Muslims - of the danger posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists, He even went further to warn Lebanon’s Christian minority of potentially being taken as hostages in a similar way to Iraq’s Yazidis. In his words, Nasrallah called those doubters of his many military adventures morons and traitors, as it was made clear by some that they will not be ready to send their sons to war in Syria, Iraq or Yemen or approve his continued attacks on Saudi and the Gulf states where thousands of Lebanese Shiites, Sunnis and Christians have lived and worked for decades. All this is maybe a sign that Iran called for more action by Hezbollah in Syria. After Nasrallah’s speeches, Hezbollah could be better described as a small mercenary contingent in Iran’s elite Quds brigade, and no longer a Lebanese party with Lebanese aspirations and dreams. Thus, this period could mark the end of the beginning and the return of an unmasked Hezbollah, as Arab Shiite blood is spilled for Iran’s interests in the region.

Distress Signals By Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah And Pro-Hizbullah Media Reflect Growing Sense Of Existential Danger,
Crisis Of Confidence Between Hizbullah And Its Supporters

By: E. B. Picali and H. Varulkar*/MEMRI/
Recent statements by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah regarding the existential danger faced by his organization and the resistance axis in the war against ISIS, and regarding the possible need for a general mobilization of Hizbullah members, reflect the deep crisis currently afflicting the organization and the deep distress felt by its leadership. This distress stems from the situation in Syria, namely the heavy losses sustained by Hizbullah in the fighting there and the defeat of the resistance axis in many areas, especially in the north and south of Syria. It also results from a decline in Hizbullah's standing among the Lebanese Shi'ites, who, according to many reports, have begun expressing a lack of confidence in Hizbullah and are reluctant to join its ranks.
In his statements, Nasrallah pointedly tried to persuade the Shi'ites in Lebanon that the war in Syria is an existential campaign that affects them directly, and therefore they must not only stand beside Hizbullah but refrain from expressing any criticism against it. He also clarified that in such a war everybody must do his part and must be willing to make great sacrifices.
In a May 23, 2015 meeting with Hizbullah soldiers who were wounded in action, Nasrallah said: "The danger we are facing is an existential one... the situation requires great sacrifice."[1] In a speech the next day, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary the Israeli army's withdrawal from South Lebanon, he said: "The day may come when we will call for a general mobilization [of Hizbullah members]... [The present war] is more extensive, more dangerous and crueler than [the 1982 war with Israel], because it is [taking place] right inside our home. Whoever wants to defend [his] existence, survival, honor and homeland must be willing to make the [necessary] sacrifice."[2]
This distress is also evident in articles in the pro-Hizbullah daily Al-Akhbar. The daily's board chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote in an editorial that many people don't want to face the facts of the war in Syria, and have chosen to ally themselves with Hizbullah's enemies. "These people will pay a heavy price," he threatened. He stressed that "anyone who sees himself as part of the [resistance] axis should understand that the battle concerns him directly" and affects "his environment, family, children, neighbors, job, studies and health." This, he said, means that people must stop dithering, side with Hizbullah and trust its leaders to direct the campaign.[3] Another Al-Akhbar article, by columnist Nahed Hattar, stated: "It can be said that we are in a very difficult predicament not only militarily but also, and more importantly, from a geopolitical perspective."[4]
This report will review Nasrallah's statements and the Al-Akhbar articles that reflect Hizbullah's crisis, as well as the reports on the crisis of confidence between the organization and the Shi'ite public, which clarify the background for the organization's distress.
Nasrallah delivering his May 24, 2015 speech (Source:, May 25, 2015)
Nasrallah To Shi'ite Public: We Are Facing An Existential Threat That Requires Many Sacrifices; General Mobilization May Be Necessary
It seems that Nasrallah's distress – caused by the heavy losses to his forces in Syria, his people's reluctance to enlist, and the criticism of the Shi'ite public against him – has prompted him to make pointed statements reflecting the danger faced by his organization. He stated that the resistance axis is facing an existential threat, rebuked its critics, and tried to encourage his followers to enlist and whip up their fighting spirit and willingness to sacrifice. Much of his May 24 speech on the occasion of "Liberation Day" (the anniversary of the withdrawal of the Israeli army from South Lebanon) was devoted to these messages. He said: "The day may come when we will call for a general mobilization [of Hizbullah members]," and proclaimed: "[This is] an existential battle for the life of Iraq and the Iraqi people, for the life of Syria and the Syrian people, and for the life of Lebanon and the Lebanese people. Existential battles supersede struggles over interests, privileges, reforms and democracy. When any country in the world is facing an existential threat, the opposition keeps silent and does not speak out against the government, but rather cooperates with the government and even supports it... Today's existential battle requires many sacrifices. It is more extensive, more dangerous and crueler than [the 1982 war with Israel], because it is [taking place] right inside our home. Whoever wants to defend [his] existence, survival, honor and homeland must be willing to make the [necessary] sacrifice."[5]
Even If Half Of Us Die In This Battle, It Is Still Better Than Defeat
One day earlier, in a meeting with wounded Hizbullah soldiers on the occasion of "Day of the Wounded", Nasrallah said: "The danger we are facing is an existential one... In this new phase, there is no place for frustration among our ranks. It a stage in which we will use all our force and all our capabilities against the takfiris... Even if every single city [in Syria] falls [to the enemy], this will not weaken our strong resolve... Had we not fought in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus, [today] we would have been fighting in Baalbek, Al-Harmel Al-Ghaziya and other places [in Lebanon]...
"We have three options. The first is to fight even harder than we fought in the last four years. The second is to capitulate to the massacre and let our women and girls be taken hostage. The third is to [flee] and wander from country to country around the world, humiliated and purposeless, going from crisis to crisis... Even if half of us are martyred in this war, and the other half goes on living a dignified, strong and noble life – that is a better option [than the other two]. In fact, even if three out of every four of us are martyred, and the rest go on living a dignified, strong and noble life, it will still be preferable. Allah willing, we will never have such a large number of martyrs, but the situation does require extensive sacrifices... Anyone who hinders us from getting up [and fighting], or speaks in a different vein, is a blind fool and a traitor... This is the time to enlist. Everyone can play a part, even [if only by] speaking in support [of the fighting]. Anyone who has credibility among the people must take part in this mobilization [campaign]. The clerics must support it, and anyone whose son has been martyred should speak up."[6]
About Shi'ites Who Oppose Him: They Are Traitors Serving The U.S., Shame On Them For Counting Our Martyrs
Alongside his persuasion efforts and fear campaign among his Shi'ite supporters, Nasrallah and the pro-Hizbullah media have renewed their threats against their political opponents – especially against the independent Shi'ites, whom Hizbullah calls "the U.S. embassy's Shi'ites," implying that they are collaborators and traitors serving the U.S., the West and even Israel.[7] These threats are presumably a response to the extensive anti-Hizbullah media campaign waged by these Shi'ites, which has gained momentum lately, especially on the Lebanese news website The site is directed by Shi'ite Lebanese journalist 'Ali Al-Amin, a well-known Hizbullah opponent and the son of Shi'ite cleric Muhamad Hassan Al-Amin, who is also an opponent of Hizbullah. The site, which posts articles by Al-Amin and other Shi'ite writers, constantly stirs up anti-Hizbullah sentiment by publishing the number of Hizbullah soldiers killed in Syria and various reports aimed at embarrassing the organization and outraging its supporters. One such report claimed that a 15-year-old Shi'ite boy had died while fighting for Hizbullah in Syria, and condemned Hizbullah's recruitment of minors in general.[8]
In his meeting with the wounded soldiers, Nasrallah harshly attacked anti-Hizbullah Shi'ites, saying: "The Shi'ites of the American embassy are traitors, agents and fools... From now on we will no longer keep silent. Anyone who speaks out [against us], we will look him in the eye and say, 'you are a traitor.'"[9] In his speech the next day, Nasrallah again delegitimized these Shi'ites by claiming that they are funded by the U.S. Hinting at, he said: "I say to some of the Lebanese: It's a disgrace that you count the number of our martyrs in this war of ours. Shame on you... We are facing a psychological war funded by the U.S. embassy and certain countries. These days [certain] countries pay money so people will say 'Hizbullah is in crisis'... 'Hizbullah is experiencing internal problems'... 'Hizbullah is having trouble [recruiting] young men, so it recruits minors instead.' They exploit the issue of a young boy from one of our training groups for boys who was martyred. We do have a program for boys aged 15-16. We take them on a camp and teach them survival skills in nature. Accidents happen. When a boy is killed in an accident we consider him a martyr. [Did you think] that we have no men and therefore we recruit boys? Shame on you!" [10]
Board Chairman Of Pro-Hizbullah Daily 'Al-Akhbar': The Supporters Of The Resistance Must Understand That This Campaign Concerns Them And Stop Talking Nonsense
In a similar vein, Ibrahim Al-Amin, the board chairman of the daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, wrote an aggressive and threatening editorial reflecting the crisis of confidence between Hizbullah and its supporters: "It seems like the army of ditherers in our region has recently grown. Many people don't want to face the facts that the current conflict [presents us with]. Some of them have decided to tie their fate to the decision of the choir of those who collaborate [with Hizbullah's enemies]... These people will pay a heavy price... Since things are so crystal clear, Nasrallah had to take a firm position that is not open to interpretation. This obligates the public [that supports the] resistance [i.e., Hizbullah] not only to be enthusiastic about [Nasrallah's] loud and clear words but to stop regurgitating [the same talk over and over again]. Stop analyzing and spouting adolescent nonsense. Clearly, anyone who sees himself as part of this axis should understand that the battle concerns him directly. Even before it concerns his freedom and honor it concerns his environment, family, children, neighbors, job, studies and health. This means that he must stop searching futilely for unfeasible options... In brief, now is the time for resoluteness; for getting up and joining the direct battle, for choosing between two lines and paths... This stage obliges us to take a resolute stance, no matter how difficult and painful it is... In this time of resoluteness, people must choose the party [Hizbullah] and trust [its] leadership to lead the campaign. At this point there is no room for additional searching and careful inspection... Whoever sees himself as part of this battle, out of either interest or faith, must look towards its final outcome, not at details that may cause him frustration, weakness and retreat. Whoever cannot join... let him at least keep silent."[11]
Al-Amin: We Will Use Every Means Against Our Enemies; 'Al-Akhbar' Columnist Nahed Hattar: Whoever Is Not With Us Is A Traitor; Saudi, Qatari And Turkish Interests Must Be Targeted
In another Al-Akhbar editorial, Al-Amin continued his attack on Hizbullah's political opponents inside and outside Lebanon, clarifying that anyone coming out against Hizbullah is a traitor and a collaborator, and that coexistence and dialogue with other sects and factions in Lebanon are not a priority at the moment. He wrote: "This is the stage of a cruel and ruthless response to anyone who abets this evil axis [i.e., Hizbullah's opponents] in word or deeds or by joining [them]... In fact, we will use every [means we have] against our enemies and force them to shed what the remains of their camouflage and come out into the open. We will not go on playing a quiet game for the sake of national responsibility or coexistence, neighborliness, politeness or nostalgia. We will give [our enemies] the cruel [treatment] they deserve as filthy collaborators..."[12]
Another Al-Akhbar columnist, Nahed Hattar, wrote in a similar vein: "It can be said that we are in a very difficult predicament not only militarily but also, and more importantly, from a geopolitical perspective... This war must be declared a national war... requiring a general mobilization of forces, efforts and resources... In a war for national liberation, there is no opposition, dialogue, reconciliation or clemency, but only a single political yardstick by which everyone is measured. Those inside the country are either patriots or traitors; those outside the country are either allies or enemies. National war requires... the announcement of a state of emergency and a general mobilization... The circle of war must be expanded to target Saudi, Qatari and Turkish interests."[13]
The Background To Hizbullah's Distress: A Crisis Of Confidence Between Hizbullah And Its Support Base
Numerous reports in recent weeks by the media identified with Hizbullah's opponents indicate that Shi'ite disgruntlement over Hizbullah's military involvement in Syria[14] is on the rise again, due to the growing losses sustained by the organization in Syria, especially in recent battles in the Al-Qalamoun area in the west of the country, where Hizbullah has already lost four senior commanders and scores of fighters.[15] The frustration is also due to the military defeat of the Syrian army and Hizbullah's forces in many parts of the country, mainly in the north and the south, with no victory in sight and with increasing talk about the partition of Syria.
Lebanese and Arab anti-Hizbullah media claim that Hizbullah – which is reportedly operating not only in Syria but also in Iraq and Yemen – is feeling a shortage of fighters, which it seeks to overcome by offering recruits tempting wages, by recruiting boys aged 15 and 16, and also by hiring mercenaries, some of them improperly trained.[16] The sources report, however, that the organization's recruitment efforts have met with little response and even open rejection by the Shi'ite public. For example, the Lebanese news website Now Lebanon, identified with Hizbullah's political rivals, the March 14 Forces, cited a Druze woman who is married to a Shi'ite and is a Hizbullah supporter. She said that, in light of Hizbullah's numerous losses in Syria, which do not seem to herald a victory, she would not send her son to fight there for all the money in the world.[17] The website New Lebanon reported in September 2014 that Hizbullah was surprised to discover that only about 150 young men from the Beqaa region in northeast Lebanon had signed up to join its ranks, when it was expecting about 600. The report claimed that this stemmed, inter alia, from the Shi'ite public's opposition to Hizbullah's involvement in various parts of the Middle East, including Syria, and its feeling that Hizbullah senior officials in the Beqaa region were living a life of luxury while more and more soldiers were dying in Syria and Iraq.[18] According to the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, no few Hizbullah reservists expressed reservations regarding the general mobilization Hizbullah may announce. They said that such a mobilization was binding only in the case of a war against Israel, and that they were not willing to die for Bashar Al-Assad.[19]
Another problem straining the relations between Hizbullah and its support base – especially its relations with the families of the fallen – is the financial crisis. About a month ago Hizbullah circulated fliers among its supporters in the south Beirut Dahiya, in South Lebanon and the northern Beqaa soliciting donations to meet the needs of Hizbullah soldiers.[20] The Syrian opposition website Orients New claimed that some 20 families of the organization's fallen had not received compensation from Hizbullah, and in response had kept other Hizbullah soldiers in their family from reporting for duty in Syria.[21]
Hizbullah flier soliciting donations for the organization's soldiers (Source: Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, April 24, 2015)
In addition, a series of tweets by a woman called "Umm Al-Hasan," who identified herself as a Shi'ite from the Dahiya, recently sparked an uproar in Lebanon. Umm Al-Hasan said that her son had been killed in Syria, and charged Nasrallah to bring back her other son, along with all other Hizbullah soldiers, since Hizbullah had no stake in the Syrian war.[22] In another tweet she wrote: "Please, Nasrallah, I want my son [to come back] from Al-Qalamoun. It's enough that one [of my sons] died. Take pity on our children..." Though the Twitter account may well be fake, the tweets got a lot of attention in the Lebanese press, which further exacerbated the criticism of Hizbullah and swayed public opinion against it.
One of Umm Al-Hasan's tweets
*E. B. Picali is a research fellow at MEMRI; H. Varulkar is director of research at MEMRI.

[1] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 23, 2015.
[2], May 24, 2015.
[3] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 25, 2015.
[4] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 22, 2015.
[5], May 24, 2015.
[6] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 23, 2015.
[7] On the independent Shi'ites in Lebanon and their struggle against Hizbullah in 2012-13, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 938, Independent Shi'ites In Lebanon Challenge Hizbullah, February 22, 2013.
[8], April 28, 2015.
[9] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 23, 2015.
[10] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 23, 2015.
[11] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 25, 2015.
[12] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 25, 2015.
[13] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 22, 2015.
[14] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1021, Rift In Hizbullah And Among Its Shi'ite Supporters Due To Its Military Involvement In Syria, October 3, 2013.
[15] For example, the Lebanese daily Al-Mudun, known for its opposition to Hizbullah and the Syrian regime, claimed recently that the number of Hizbullah casualties was very high, and that the organization was keeping their number a secret and burying some of them in Syria itself. Al-Mudun (Lebanon), April 20, 2015.
[16], May 6, 12, 2015.
[17], May 12, 2015.
[18], September 16, 2014
[19] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), May 25, 2014.
[20] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), April 24, 2014.
[21], April 8, 2015.