Search This Blog

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Syria: War in Qalamoun Didn’t Begin Because It Never Stopped

 الجيش السوري يسيطر على مدينة السفيرة بحلب بشكل كامل

Published Thursday, October 31, 2013  
 
It appears that the much-hyped “Great Battle of Qalamoun” will only take place in the media. While the Syrian army does not deny that it has been mobilizing troops in the vicinity of the Qalamoun district, a Qusayr-like battle is not inevitable. Instead, gradual advances are taking place to spare Qalamoun large-scale devastation.
 
 
There are daily battles in Qalamoun, the western Syrian mountain range that extends from the Dreij area in the south to Homs. The mountain range may be seen as part of the Eastern Lebanon Mountains, which link Mount Hermon in the south to the plains of Homs.
In truth, this could be a time when Damascus is most reassured to the movements on the battlefield ever since the Syrian army began its counterattack in November 2012. The plan to establish a safe zone around Damascus by securing eastern and western Ghouta is making headway, and also in Homs, where the Syrian army now controls up to 80 percent of the city, according to Syrian military sources.
 
In Daraa, which the army considers to be a weak link in its security plans as arms and fighters continue to flow through it to the Damascus countryside, efforts are underway to cut supply routes and secure the city. The fierce shelling sustained throughout the past week against the strongholds of al-Nusra Front and the Army of Islam there can be seen in this context. The situation in Idlib is similar to that of Daraa.
 
But sources say that the situation in Aleppo and its countryside is quite different from the rest of the battlefronts. Those in charge in Damascus are convinced that the battle of Aleppo cannot be settled by tanks and warplanes, but only by a political agreement, which the sources say “will come sooner or later, compelling Turkey to close the borders and isolate the militants regardless of their affiliations, before the Syrian army begins pursuing them in the vast areas of the north.”
 
“The Army will keep its hold on the liberated neighborhoods in [Aleppo] and access routes, and attempt to expand the safe zone as much as possible, while continuing military operations and precision targeting of militant weapons caches and command centers.”
 

What About Qalamoun?

 
Sources say that the army prioritizes its operations, especially in a vast and complex area like Qalamoun. For instance, the army proceeds to first secure the areas that “pose a threat to the army’s main weapons caches, airstrips, or bases, and also the areas that compromise strategic routes, followed by areas that constitute a direct threat to Damascus.”
 
No doubt, Qalamoun, and its Lebanese extensions in Ersal and the wilderness around it, has become a haven for a large number of Syrian opposition fighters from various affiliations, starting with the Army of Islam, al-Furqan Brigades, and Suqur al-Sham Brigades, and not ending with al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and other militants fleeing the battles in Ghouta. The area also poses a direct risk to the international expressway between Damascus and the governorates of Homs, Hama, Idlib, Tartous, and Latakia.
 
Subsequently, it is of paramount importance for the Syrian army to retake Qalamoun. But the sources explained how the methods used in the battle of Qusayr and its countryside are not appropriate in Qalamoun’s case, not only because of the different geography, but also because of current political circumstances.
 
The sources said: “Settling the war in Qusayr was the beginning of a political transformation and the reversal of international attitudes in favor of the regime and its allies.”
 
“Any battle in Qalamoun in the current political climate could damage political cards ahead of Geneva II, if it convenes, rather than being a point of strength, if settling the battle is delayed and the army is unable to achieve quick results, which is to be expected given the size of the area and its harsh topography.”
 
The sources added, “The military leadership and allies are convinced that things on the battlefield are going well after learning the lessons from the battles over the past two years, and exposing the tactics of the militants and those who back them.”
 

Carrot and Stick

 
A few sandbags are all that separate the towns of Qalamoun from the areas now under the Syrian army’s control. Each town has one entrance guarded by the Syrian army, which prevents wanted fugitives and militants from leaving these areas, and only civilians can enter or leave through the checkpoints. Only Deir Attiya appears confident and comfortable with its security situation, compared to its “explosive” surroundings in Qalamoun, beginning with Rankous opposite the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, all the way to Zabadani in the south, in addition to the towns located near Damascus’s northern approaches in the direction of Homs.
 
The Syrian army is operating on the basis that a major battle will take place here, massing troops prepared for alpine combat in more than one area, whether all the way to the Lebanese border to the west, or the south in the direction of the Barada Valley and Rankous, or the center in al-Nabak. Despite this heavy deployment, well-placed sources concerned with the battles in Qalamoun say that the army does not intend to carry out a large-scale assault on an area of this size with extensive supply lines running from places like Ersal.
 
The sources said, “The army has other plans, such as disjointing the area and besieging heavy militant concentrations, as well as the carrot-and-stick policy, for example.”
 
In a few weeks, snow will cover all mountainous roads. According to the sources, “The weather begins to intensify in late November in this high-altitude area. Snow will cut off more than 70 percent of the militants’ supply routes, mainly those extending from Ersal. In parallel, the Syrian air force, artillery emplacements, and rocket batteries will cut off the rest, placing the militants under siege from both the snow and the army.”
 

The Talfita Model

 
Those who saw the village of Talfita’s residents throwing rice at Syrian army soldiers and receiving them with songs and Syrian flags, will understand the Syrian army’s course of action. An informed Syrian military source said, “People everywhere are tired of the actions of the militants, their violations, and their infighting, especially in Qalamoun. The areas hosting the militants have started to come to their senses, asking foreign fighters to leave the villages, and urging their compatriots to turn themselves in and find a solution with the government. This is what happened in Talfita, where militants handed themselves over to the army, while foreign fighters were expelled.”
 
The Syrian army is thus relying on dismantling the “nurturing environments” of the militants. The source did not deny that the residents have provided intelligence to the army, “because they are sick of the militants’ occupation of their villages.”
 
The source then explained why the tactic of gradually snatching territory, which proved its worth in areas like Ghouta and Homs, could be the ideal solution for an area the size of Qalamoun, saying that this would reduce the army’s casualties, while sustaining pressure enables concluding local deals that prevent a lot of bloodshed and devastation.”
 
The latest battles unfolded in the town of Saddad before the army retook it on Monday, October 28. Sources indicated that the goal of the armed opposition in entering Saddad was to bog down the Syrian army ahead of any major battle, adding that the militants were surprised by the army’s capacity to quickly settle the confrontation. As for Maaloula, the sources said that the situation in the town is now stable and secure to a large extent.
 
The battle in Qalamoun will not be like the battle of Qusayr. Instead, it will be a systematic attempt to gradually seize the villages controlled by the militants, some through deals, others through force. No bell will ring to signal the start of the battle because the battle never stopped in the first place.
 

Hezbollah Will Not Participate

 
The presence of militants in Qalamoun does not only affect Syria, especially after evidence emerged that this region and its Lebanese extension in Ersal have become a staging ground for attacks in Beirut’s southern suburbs and rocket attacks in the Bekaa. Despite the media hype regarding the possibility of Hezbollah participating alongside the Syrian army in any upcoming battles along the Eastern Mountain Range, Al-Akhbar has learned that Hezbollah is not considering taking part in any military activities there, except in the event militants move on Bekaa villages, where Hezbollah is under pressure from the Syrian army’s attacks.
 
Al-Akhbar has also learned that the Syrian opposition in Lebanon has begun to prepare, “so that the battle in Qalamoun does not pass like the battle in Qusayr without major tension in Lebanon.” This tension would reportedly take on the form of engineered unrest in the north, the Bekaa, and the southern coastline, to distract Hezbollah and Syria’s allies. As for Tripoli, sources said that it would also be part of the unrest.
 
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
 

SAA Besieging Terrorists in Ar-Rastan


White House Expected to Ease Sanctions Targeting Syria …Iran to Follow?

Franklin Lamb

Beirut
A-Manar

Additional easing of Syrian sanctions is expected by mid-November according to staff at the US Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Asset Control.

Obama, PutinPressure on Obama from Putin as part of the ‘price tag’ for Russia’s role  with bailing out the American president with the chemical weapons ‘redline’ which became a canard is one reason.  Another reason is that the White House believes that it needs to communicate to Damascus that prospects for better relations and even some cooperation are not completely destroyed as a result of the 32 month crisis still raging in the Syrian Arab Republic.
There are currently three types of sanctions that the U.S. government has imposed against Syria. 

The most comprehensive sanction, called the Syria Accountability Act (SAA) of 2004, prohibits the export of most goods containing more than 10% U.S.-manufactured component parts to Syria. 

Another sanction, resulting from the USA Patriot Act, was levied specifically against the Commercial Bank of Syria in 2006. 

The third type of sanction contains many Executive Orders from the President that specifically deny certain Syrian citizens and entities access to the U.S. financial system due to their participation in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, association with Al Qaida, the Taliban or Osama bin Laden; or destabilizing activities in Iraq and Lebanon.  Please consult our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to find answers to our most commonly-asked questions about how sanctions may affect you and your business.

Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act

In May 2004, the President signed E.O. 13338 implementing the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA) which imposes a series of sanctions against Syria for its support for terrorism, involvement in Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs, and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq.

The second recent easing of Syrian sanctions will show more balance and neutrality than those of last June which were widely perceived as designed to support the rebels and weakening the Assad government just as the Assad government began gaining ground back from the rebels.


Syrian refugees
As part of the change in US sanctions against Syria, licenses for exports of certain goods related to reconstruction of infrastructure were allowed in areas held by the rebels. Specifically, the US Office of Financial Assets Control indicated that license applications would be accepted for commodities, technology and software related to water supply and sanitation, agricultural production and food processing, power generation, oil and gas production, construction and engineering, transportation, and educational infrastructure. Most benefited would be rebel held areas. In additional, the US Treasury Department’s Statement of Policy indicated that OFAC will now consider on a case-by-case basis applications to permit services in the Syrian telecommunication industry to enable private persons to better access the Internet and in the agricultural sector. Certain petroleum transactions benefiting the rebel forces were also authorized. Finally, OFAC revised Syria General License 11 and replaced it with General License 11A authorizing NGOs to engage in certain activities designed to preserve the cultural heritage of Syria including museums, historic buildings and archaeological sites.
 

The new lifting of sanctions, tentatively scheduled to be announced next month, will help the Assad governments because international banking and trade prohibitions are expected to be reduced. At the same time, US officials are discussing with their Russian “partners” a number of proposals that would acknowledge the right of the Syrian people to choose who to support in next year’s Presidential elections without Washington insisting that currently Syrian President Bashar Assad step down as part of a “transition to democracy.”
 

In addition, the White House is telling Congressional leaders, for all to hear, that the various press reports suggesting that is recently waived restrictions on providing arms to the Syrian rebels,  is much more limited that the main stream media have claimed. In fact, the Executive Branch waiving of portions of the Arms Export Control Act only to authorizes a specific transaction providing defense articles to “vetted” members of the opposition and to NGOs in Syria. The defense articles are described as those “necessary for the conduct of … operations inside or related to Syria, or to prevent the preparation, use, or proliferation of Syria’s chemical weapons.” Who the “vetted” members are is not specified nor are the particular articles involved detailed. Significantly, the White House claims, this is not a general waiver but is only a waiver with respect to one specific contemplated transaction. Defense companies do not now have a blanket license to ship their wares to the Syrian opposition. This is because Section 40(g) of the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2780(g), specifically gives the President authority to waive the provisions of the Act with respect to a specific transaction if he finds that the waiver is “essential to the national security interests of the United States” and he makes the requisite report on the waiver to Congress. The determination makes that finding and directs the Secretary of State to make the required report to Congress.

The main opposition to White House plans to lessen the civilian targeting sanctions comes, as usual, from the US Congressional Zionist lobby as it seeks to prevent any lessening of US sanctions against Iran first and Syria second.  Two days of talks are about to begin in Vienna between experts from the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) and their Iranian counterparts, who will discuss technical issues relating to Teheran's nuclear program and international sanctions. The meeting will help lay the groundwork for the next round of diplomatic negotiations, scheduled to take place in Geneva on November 7-8 and it is anticipated that the White House will accede to EU and Russian proposals to send a reciprocal good faith response to Tehran and lift some of the US civilian targeting sanctions. Although the P5+1 and Tehran have agreed to keep the contents of their negotiations secret, the general aim of the talks has been for Iran to reduce its capacity to enrich uranium and certain other nuclear activities in return for relief from sanctions, which are strangling the country's economy. The main hurdles include verification of any concessions Iran makes and the sequencing of any reduction in sanctions.

Signs of progress were apparent earlier this week by comments made after separate talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. In a rare joint statement, both sides called the talks "very productive" – a significant difference from their eleven previous meetings in recent years, which failed to make progress in resolving what the IAEA has called the "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program. The statement also indicated that a document discussed in past meetings has been set aside and a new approach has been taken.

The Obama administration is eager for negotiations to succeed, though it has also stated that, like the Zionist lobby is repeating that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” If the talks fail, international support for sanctions would likely begin to fall apart, reducing U.S. leverage.

With the world watching, particularly U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, as well as regional “friends” like Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia the White House, reportedly interested in lifting some of the sanctions on Syria and Iran if facing stiff opposition from Tel Aviv and Riyadh with both governments   criticizing the United States for its lack of resolve in Syria and its apparent conciliatory attitude toward Iran.

 Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (SSSP) in Shatila Camp (www.sssp-lb.com) and is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Source: Al-Manar Website
31-10-2013 - 15:55 Last updated 31-10-2013 - 15:55

Hezbollah Is Over … Over


Yehya Dbouk

Hezbollah SyriaWhat is in the possession of the media outlets opposing Hezbollah, internally and externally, is incalculable, but it lacks media professionalism.

Reporting news “as they are”, or the media psychological warfare, or the policy of causing psychological damage or blabbering in the ranks of the party, its allies, and its supporters, all those fell and are falling on daily bases. All what happened and is still happening indicates that those are not qualified for this profession.

A few days ago, the Syrian militants’ media broadcast a part of a video over the internet, and it was circulated in no time in anti-Hezbollah media inside and outside Lebanon. The video shows an explosion of a building in Syria, it was said to be in Sayyeda Zainab region in Damascus Countryside, while stressing that it is “the most important building for Hezbollah, and the rallying point of its elements, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.”

It is true that Hezbollah elements in Syria and in Sayyeda Zainab region particularly learned about the explosion and their killing through media, but the news about the explosion occupied the headlines in no time, and was the topic of discussion and analysis on “prominent”  Arab media channels: What is its significance? What is its value and effect on the battle? How will Hezbollah treat the families of the casualties as their corpses arrive to Lebanon?

The news about the explosion was also circulated around international media, until it reached two days ago Israel. It was the first news in its main news bulletins, as if Tel Aviv was saying: “Let’s play with the players”, and “lets promote the blow,” which is unprecedented for Hezbollah, and anyway no one will hold anyone in Israeli accountable as long as the issue is about “the failure of Hezbollah”.
Generally, anyone who follows the militants’ media and the “moderate” Arab media counts thousands of casualties for Hezbollah in this year and in the passing years, in addition to hundreds of captives and abductees. Additionally, anyone who reads the militants’ websites realizes that every day or two, tens of Hezbollah elements fall and captivation operations take place, however, not one captive’s face in revealed.

In the past three years, the militants’ media killed Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah twice, his deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem twice, and the cousins of Sayyed Nasrallah and his nieces and nephews more than once, as for the “killing of a major military commander” then this had no limit. Furthermore, militants’ media, in general, did not leave any Hezbollah official alive.

Fabrications are endless when it comes to the number of casualties and captives. This also applies on the military operations and the clashes. It is enough to remember that many of the militants’ media, websites, and social media pages insisted for over a month that Al-Qusayr city did not fall and that the battles were ongoing in its main field, regardless that Hezbollah elements had pulled out of the city and its countryside after having achieved their goals along with the Syrian Army. Let that be the measurement. As for the defeats of the militants in Damascus countryside and other regions, militants’ media blame Hezbollah for them, as if the Syrian Army stood neutrally and did not interfere in the fights. And the story of defeat in this form is deliberate, and its aims at causing damage to the morale of the Syrian soldiers, knowing that they are actually achieving reversed results for the benefit of the regime and the party (Hezbollah), and this is something militants are incapable of understanding and recognizing.

In the same context comes the long series of “massacres against civilians” which Hezbollah commits, specifically following any defeat for the militants. Every village or town or city which the Syrian Army regains faces a similar accusation. Everyone remembers the “Knives massacres” in Al-Qusayr for example, knowing that facts have later proven that there weren’t any civilians during the battle in the city. And just as a reminder, the “media activist” in Al-Qusayr, Hadi Abdallah, appeared through “Al-Jazeera” then to talk about a fabrication of a massacre which Hezbollah had committed against the “old men, women, and children” in Al-Qusayr, and when asked about pictures that would document the massacre, he replied with an answer which confused the newscaster, “Hezbollah stole all the bodies!”

What was said here was just the tip of the iceberg, and listing further examples and evidence would prolong the presentation. But this is the case of everyone who owns a media outlet with no information; and anyone who thinks that fabrication and exaggeration in counting and creating losses for the enemy would increase the morale of its members and demoralize the enemy, will find that the result is contrary. As the gains on the short term are very modest when compared to the losses on the long term; and the media outlet, which is described as a liar or exaggerator, cannot easily restore its position and credibility among its viewers, whether supporters or opponents.

This also applies to Lebanese media, that have always and are still spreaders of enmity, provocation, and fabrication against Hezbollah. It is true that some Lebanese are pleased with these media’s performances because they “enrage” Hezbollah and its mass, but most of this mass had undermined, a long time ago, the credibility of these media and had become aware, after a number of exposed fabrications, the truth of these media.

The current media gain, with prior awareness of the big loss in the future, including the complete loss of credibility, is a sign of media retardation, and maybe full retardation.

Translated by Sara Taha Moughnieh

Disclaimer:
Al-Manar is not responsible for the content of the article. All opinions expressed are those of the writer's not Al-Manar’s or its staff.

Source: Newspapers
31-10-2013 - 12:46 Last updated 31-10-2013 - 12:46


Egyptian presidential adviser: Qaradawi advocates killing .. called America to strike Syria ..

مستشار الرئيس المصري : القرضاوي داعية للقتل..دعا امريكا لضرب سورية..

  


المسلماني واقوي هجوم علي الإخوان ويشبهم بالفرق المنحرفة الضالة وهؤلاء شيوخ الفتنة


Qaradawi instigates the violence in Syria


القرضاوى يتهم المسيحيين و يتطاول على السيسى و شيخ الأزهر و يطالب بالتدخال الأجنبى فى مصر
 

المستشار الإعلامي لرئيس الجمهورية أحمد المسلماني

 شن أحمد المسلماني، المستشار الإعلامي للرئيس المصري المؤقت عدلي منصورا، هجوما قاسيا على الداعية الشيخ يوسف القرضاوي، متهما إياه بأنه بات "داعية للقتل وسفك الدماء،" ودعاه إلى أن "يثوب إلى رشده"، منتقدا فتاويه حيال مصر وسوريا،

وقال المسلماني، في مقال له نشرته وكالة أنباء الشرق الأوسط المصرية الرسمية الأربعاء، تحت عنوان "خريف داعية .. الشيخ القرضاوي ضد الشيخ القرضاوي" إن السنوات الأخيرة من حياة الداعية: "تنسف تماماً العقود السابقة من حياته.. كأَنَّ الشيخ يمضي وراء سيرته بماسِحةٍ تُزيل ما سبق له من علمٍ وفَضْل."

وذكر المستشار الإعلامي لمنصور أن القرضاوي، المرجع الروحي لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين، "كان ثابتاً صامداً ضد الغلّو والتطرف، واشتبك مع كتابات أبو الأعلى المودودي وسيد قطب دون تردد أو خوف" وأضاف: "لكن الشيخ القرضاوي الذي قال ذلك قبل سنوات عاد بعد ثورة يونيو 2013 مهاجماً الشعب والجيش.. ومصوراً الأمر وكأن فترة الرئيس السابق محمد مرسي هي الفترة الراشدة وأن كل ما قبلها وما بعدها ملكٌ عَضود"

واتهم المسلماني القرضاوي بأنه "صوّرَ للمسلمين أنه يبكي على سقوط الإسلام، لكنه في واقع الأمر كان يبكي على سقوط الإخوان" مضيفا أن "القرضاوي الأخلاقي اختفى لصالح القرضاوي البراجماتي الميكافيللي.. فأفتى أثناء حملة الرئيس السابق بأنه يجوز للمواطن الذي يأخذ الرشوة الإنتخابية أن يقسم بالله كذباً أو بالطلاق كذباً من أجل الحصول على الرشوة والمال.. ما كان سبباً في صدمة محبيه ومؤيديه."

وندد المسلماني بدعوة القرضاوي للولايات المتحدة من أجل ضرب سوريا، مضيفا أنه حاول أيضا طمأنة إسرائيل بأنها لن تتعرض لهجوم من المعارضة السورية وتابع بالقول: "القرضاوي الحالي أصبح داعية القتل ومفتي الدماء راح الشيخ يدعم خطاب الرعب والفزع، والتهديد بقتل مليون أو ملايين في سبيل السلطة..  






إن القرضاوي الذي أفتى بقتل الحاكم في ثورات الربيع العربي عاد وأفتى بقتل من يخرج على الحاكم في عهد الإخوان!"

وختم المسلماني بالقول: "ثمّة مثال آخر.. إن الشيخ القرضاوي الذي أفتى "بكُفر الشيعة العلويين وقال إنهم أكفَر من اليهود والنصارى" هو نفَسه الذي يحفَل موقع غوغل بصورٍ عديدة له وهو يصافح الرئيس بشار الأسد مبتسماً ومبتهجا ويجلس معه سعيداً وفخوراً ..



Spying on Everyone: US Lacks Trust of Major World Leaders


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Egypt Forces Detain Senior Brotherhood Leader in Cairo


Local Editor

Egyptian authorities on Wednesday detained senior Muslim Brotherhood figure Essam al-Erian, one of the last few leaders of the Islamist movement to have escaped a security crackdown, the interior ministry said.

Security forces arrested Erian, deputy leader of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, at dawn in east Cairo where he had been in hiding.

Pictures of Erian circulating on social media, apparently taken during his arrest, showed him smiling and making a gesture symbolizing the rejection of the military's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since Mursi's ouster, and the authorities have detained some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership.

Mursi himself has been held incommunicado in military custody since his ouster and is due to go on trial on November 4.

Mursi's detractors accused him of poor governance and charged the Muslim Brotherhood with trying to monopolize power following the 2011 overthrow of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

His supporters deny such allegations and point to the Muslim Brotherhood's victories in a series of polls held after Mubarak's overthrow.

Source: AFP
30-10-2013 - 13:29 Last updated 30-10-2013 - 13:29


In case you missed it: Egyptian Brotherhood calls upon Egyptian Jews to rturn to Egypt and Israeli offer to Palestinian families: Take $500,000 and Leave W.B.


On the changed rules of engagement on the walls of Damascus

محمد صادق الحسيني و فريدة الشوباشي _ تغير قواعد الاشتباك على اسوار دمشق / الاخبارية



Assad Tells Brahimi Syrians Will Decide on Peace Talks

Assad-Brahimi

Local Editor

President Bashar Assad insisted in a meeting Wednesday with visiting UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that Syrians alone will decide on the fate of an initiative for Geneva peace talks.

Brahimi has been travelling the Middle East to muster support for proposed peace talks dubbed Geneva II.

"The Syrian people are the only ones who have the right to decide on Syria's future," state media quoted Assad as telling Brahimi.

"Putting an end to support for the terrorists and pressuring the states that support them is the most important step to prepare... for dialogue," Assad stressed.

"The success of any political solution is linked to putting an end to support funneled to terrorist groups."

State television reported that Brahimi agreed with Assad that Syrians themselves need to find a solution to the conflict that has been ravaging the country since March 2011.

"The efforts being made for the Geneva conference to be held are focused on finding the way for the Syrians themselves to meet and to agree on solving the crisis as quickly as possible," Brahimi was quoted as saying.

Brahimi's spokeswoman only said the envoy was hopeful that Saudi Arabia, a main backer of Syria's opposition armed groups, would take part in the proposed peace talks.

Syria was hit by a violent unrest since mid-March 2011, where the Syrian government accuses foreign actors, mainly the Saudi Arabia and Turkey, of orchestrating the conflict by supporting the militant opposition groups with arms and money.

Source: AFP
30-10-2013 - 15:42 Last updated 30-10-2013 - 19:26

Region Slowly Turns to Diplomacy in Syria Crisis



In short, the winds of change, particularly regarding the Syrian crisis, are making themselves felt throughout the region, rattling the likes of Saudi Arabia who seek to resist the shift taking place at all costs. (Photo: AP - Hassan Ammar)
 
Published Wednesday, October 30, 2013
 
The Middle East has retreated from the brink of a regional war over Syria to a sudden flurry of diplomacy to resolve the crisis, forcing old rivals to reconsider their high-stakes positions.
 
Many countries in the region who staked so much on toppling the Damascus regime now seem to be in a rush to change their ways, after Washington’s recent climbdown and push to find a diplomatic solution for the nearly three-year crisis.

Undoubtedly, the overall environment in the region – with the exception of Saudi Arabia – has begun to change, particularly given the recent opening of diplomatic channels between Iran and the United States. But it will take time for the rosy scenarios that some are drawing to become reality.

The strategic pivot that started it all was the Russia-US deal that that allowed Iran to play a more central role. The election of Hassan Rouhani in the summer partially paved the way for this diplomatic turn, but the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has had a more decisive impact on the changes underway.

What in fact happened over the past period is as follows:
– Hamas took the initiative to initiate contacts with Hezbollah, which in turn encouraged Turkish and Qatari officials to begin a more intensive engagement with Iran, which was open to these discussions, hoping they would bear fruit in resolving the Syrian crisis.

– The Iranians told the Qataris and Turks that Tehran’s current strategy is to find ways to address the hotspots and tensions in the region, advising them to take concrete and positive steps on the Syrian crisis, which was translated into the release of the Lebanese hostages in Syria in mid-October.

– Qatar, for its part, expressed its readiness to reestablish contact with Hezbollah, keeping them separate from the Syrian matter, due to the fact that Doha cannot make any sudden turns in its foreign policy and prefers a far slower pace than many would like.

– The Turks and the Qataris are also facing a test in northern Syria, where they have sway over many armed groups loosely operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Saudi is making a bid through the Salafi groups it controls to dominate the area in order to prevent the FSA from entering negotiations with the regime, something that Ankara and Doha were willing to consider.
 
– While Hezbollah was generally responsive to Qatari overtures, the Resistance nevertheless pressed the Gulf emirate to take bolder steps that would reflect their shifting position on Syria. President Bashar al-Assad, who has received letters from both Qatar and Turkey, has been less interested in opening up any channels, given the scale of enmity between the two sides since the outbreak of the crisis.

In short, the winds of change, particularly regarding the Syrian crisis, are making themselves felt throughout the region, rattling the likes of Saudi Arabia who seek to resist the shift taking place at all costs. In the end, the kingdom’s stubborn stance cannot resist the will of Washington, if the latter does commit itself to a diplomatic approach to the region’s mounting tensions.
 
But those who rush such critical matters risk disappointment when events do not unfold as quickly as they had imagined.
 
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Zionist Radio: 1500 New Settlements to Be Built in Occupied al-Quds


Local Editor

Zionist entity: settlementsThe Zionist enemy plans to build another 1,500 settlement units in the Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem almost immediately after it began freeing 21 prisoners to the West Bank and another five to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

"The prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) and the interior minister (Gideon Saar) agreed on four building plans in Jerusalem," a senior Zionist source told Agence France Presse, confirming details initially reported on military radio.

The announcement was timed to trump headlines focusing on the celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza after the 21 prisoners walked free into their respective home territories shortly after 1:00 am local time.

In the West Bank, thousands of people turned out to welcome home the 21 prisoners at a formal ceremony at Mahmoud Abbas's presidential compound in Ramallah.

The prisoners had left Ofer prison in two minibuses with blacked-out windows and were driven to Beitunia crossing where fireworks split the night sky as they tasted freedom for the first time in 20 years or more.

The entity's move to ramp up settlement in tandem with the prisoner release was mooted last week by a senior Zionist official who said the expected announcement on new construction had been coordinated in advance with the Palestinians and the Americans.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.

"In recent months we have been facing sensitive diplomatic circumstances and weighty strategic considerations which require us to take difficult and painful steps," he said on Tuesday in remarks communicated by his office.

Source: Agencies
30-10-2013 - 12:57 Last updated 30-10-2013 - 12:57

FSA Terrorists Kidnap Syrian MP Mhanna Al-Fayyadh Al-Nasser

 
Thugs from the Obama regime-backed anti-Islamic FSA groups fighting in Syria attacked a remote village in Der Ezzor and kidnapped a number of civilians among them is member of the Syrian parliament Mr. Mhanna Al-Fayyadh Al-Nasser.
 

In a video clip released by the terrorist group calling themselves ‘Islamist Ahrar Cham Movement‘ bragging about their heinous crime, the kidnapped MP appears surrounded by Al Qaeda folklore of two masked men armed with Kalashnikov rifles pointed at the hostage.
 
 We added subtitles to the video released by them, as we think western taxpayers should see where their money goes especially setting such acts as a priority before their own governments ‘shutdown’ (Watch on YouTube):


 
The fate of the villagers and their village is yet to be known, what we know is there were 25 houses in the village burned down by these cavemen. In June 2013 at least 60 all civilians were slaughtered by a Kuwaiti group from the FSA attacking their village Hatlah in Der Ezzor on the same basis of attacking the ‘regime men’.
 
Kidnapping civilians is a new custom to our region introduced and adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood junta ruling Turkey and headed by fanatic Ottoman caliph wannabe Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, thee oppressor of our time. A few days ago a group of 9 Lebanese civilians were exchanged with a herd of arrested terrorists after being kidnapped for 17 months by another Wahhabi group sponsored by Turkey and by a rabid US senator John McCain.
 
Two top Christian bishops are still held captive in the north of Syria since April 2013 by a third FSA Wahhabi group said to be Chechen, some sources confirm they’re held in Turkey itself, the price to release them includes releasing a large number of mercenaries from the French, Turkish and a GCC state armies.
 
FSA is an umbrella where different types of mercenaries and anti-Islamic Wahhabi terrorists fight the Syrian state and kill the Syrian people in the name of ‘democracy’ and NATO-styled Isalm.

Press TV – The Debate (Topic Syria) Ken O’Keefe vs. Lee Kaplan – October 23, 2013 – YouTube.

Lee Kaplan provides a classic example of the propagandists methods, divert, make personal attacks, revert to tired historical myths like America liberated Europe in World War II so as to imply the massive crimes during WWII and since do not matter.

I hope to be in a debate with Lee many more times as he provides one gift after another in terms of providing material that exposes the shallow, baseless foundation of lies that our global system of tyranny is built upon. Enjoy these dinosaurs while they are still around because their days of utility in a world waking up are clearly numbered.


Western Diplomats: Tripoli Clashes Do Not Undermine Lebanon’s Stability



A Lebanese army soldier stands near a tank in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on October 29, 2013 as army deployed following a week of clashes between supporters and opponents of Syria's regime. (Photo: AFP - Ibrahim Chalhoub)
 
Published Tuesday, October 29, 2013
 
In a recent meeting between Western ambassadors and Lebanese officials, the latter sensed a varying degree of concern on the diplomats’ part over the recent clashes in Tripoli. The diplomats see such events as inconsequential, with little risk to stability. Overall, the diplomats did not give their Lebanese interlocutors the impression that Tripoli was a priority or a source of much concern for them.

Some of the diplomats linked the incidents in Tripoli to multiple reports about an imminent Syrian army offensive in the mountains of Qalamoun, which could have reverberations in Lebanon, especially along its eastern border.

The diplomats’ questions centered mostly on exploring official Lebanese attitudes on the impact of recent security-related developments on the country’s stability, and whether they posed a serious risk.

The Lebanese officials made the following remarks on statements made by the Western ambassador:

1. As grave as they are, the incidents in Tripoli, for the diplomats, are a tractable issue, and have not yet reached a crisis point. It is uncertain whether or not they would undermine overall stability in the country, according to the ambassadors. Most of the city’s residents are moderates, they said, and would back a political solution. But on the other hand, the ambassadors voiced their concerns regarding the unchecked growth of extremist Salafi groups in Syria that possess huge stockpiles of weapons, and their attempts to infiltrate Lebanon. Some diplomats said they feared a repeat of what they had warned Lebanese officials against more than a year ago, when they shared their views on Syria.

Back then, the ambassadors defended the Syrian opposition, which they believed represented the majority of Bashar al-Assad’s opponents, as opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and the extremist groups, which they claimed at the time were small in number and had little influence. That is, before they were surprised to see the equation turned upside down over the subsequent few months, with these groups becoming the strongest armed factions on the ground, while the peaceful opposition retreated to the point of disappearing. The same diplomats also said they feared the same thing that hit Syria could hit Tripoli, with extremists becoming the strongest faction, overtaking Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the leaders of what they termed the moderate camp in the city.

2. The armed clashes in Tripoli, they say, reflect Sunni restlessness, which the ambassadors believe is somewhat justified. They then turned to Saudi Arabia as a more interesting example for the West, citing Saudi’s rejection of the UN Security Council non-permanent seat and Saudi’s exaggerated criticism of Washington. No one – in their opinion – could ignore the Saudi frustration, which may be a reflection of Sunni restlessness in the Gulf in general over Iran’s growing power. The diplomats thus believe something similar is happening in Tripoli, but say the logic of moderation is still stronger.

3. The Western ambassadors asked the officials about their expectations for the reportedly impending battle in the Qalamoun Mountains. They were keen to verify the reports claiming the battle is certain, and also reports about the extent of Hezbollah’s participation in the battle, concluding that its occurrence would explain Iran and Saudi’s lack of interest – for the time being at least – in building bridges with one another.

However, the diplomats claimed, the outcome of the battle, which will be more political and sectarian in nature than military, will not alter the military balance of power, but would aggravate the Sunni-Shia conflict. Regardless of the results of the battle in Qalamoun, it will most definitely not lead to a political solution, in the view of the Western ambassadors, just as happened with other fierce battles fought by the regime of the Syrian president against his opponents in Homs, Hama, Aleppo, and the Damascus countryside.

Yet the Lebanese officials did not sense that the ambassadors had any particular interest in the battle in Qalamoun beyond these questions. However, what caught their attention was the ambassadors’ assertion that Lebanese politicians, especially in March 14, had spoken to them extensively about the repercussions of the battle on the security situation in Lebanon and its direct impact on Tripoli, despite the huge distance between the city and Qalamoun. They were talking about sectarian repercussions that would exacerbate armed clashes in the city.

But after conveying these politicians’ concerns, the ambassadors said that they did not necessarily share this view, and did not believe that the battle in Qalamoun would have strategic implications equivalent to the Geneva II conference, which the West believes is a true strategic goal that could lead to a political settlement of the Syrian conflict..

4. The Western diplomats believe there are a number of interactions that impact armed clashes in Tripoli, including: Iranian-Saudi; Shia-Sunni; and inter-Syrian interactions. However, the ambassadors told Lebanese officials they hoped to see a political solution reached in Tripoli and Ersal through the authorities, rather than at the hands of Lebanese factions, especially Hezbollah. They believe that Hezbollah’s attempt to impose a solution in Ersal as part of its intervention in the battle of Qalamoun would further aggravate Sunni-Shia tension, as well as unrest in Tripoli.

5. The ambassadors noted that Nabih Berri, in his capacity as a Shia leader and parliament speaker, can play a positive role by encouraging the president to convene the national dialogue, seeing as most factions, including moderate Sunni leaders, continue to have open channels of communication with him. The ambassadors urged a return to the dialogue table, and reckoned that the speaker can appreciate whether there is a need for “new rules” to manage this dialogue, or whether the old rules could still be followed.

Nicolas Nassif is a political analyst at Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

نصرالله يرسم المعادلة ونقطة على الفاصلة






د خالد المطرود _ حوار ساعة و عشرون / الاخبارية 28 10 2013



وءام وهاب _ قراءة في خطاب السيد وفي تطزرات المشهد السوري / الميادين 28 10 2013



 

خالد العبود و حميدي العبد الله _ حوار ساعة وعشرون / الاخبارية 28 10 2013



 

 

ORIENT TENDENCIES: SAUDI ARABIA, LIES AND CONFUSION


Posted on October 28, 2013 by             

 
http://www.neworientnews.com/news/files/news/syrian_flag_200px_590634623-20131028-081140.jpg
Monday October 28, 2013 no155
Weekly information and analysis bulletin specialized in Arab Middle Eastern affairs prepared by neworientnews.com
Editor in chief Wassim Raad
wassimraad73@gmail.com
New Orient Center for Strategic policies

Saudi Arabia: Lies and confusion

 
By Ghaleb Kandil
 
Journalists and analysts associated with Saudi money and working for years to spread propaganda and to defend the interests of the kingdom, put forward three reasons for the Saudi anger. Two of these reasons seem sincere, while the third, as old as the US-Saudi relationship, intended to throw dust in the eyes.
 
First: U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said in London that the anger of the kingdom is due to the decision of the United States not to attack Syria. This means that Saudi Arabia advocated a global war which could have led, according to experts, to the destruction of the main Syrian infrastructure and killed tens of thousands of people, plus millions of refugees. The purpose of these strikes was to clear the way for the proxy war launched by Saudi Arabia against Syria through Takfirist gangs, which seems today in an impasse.
 
The Saudis know that the Obama administration had mobilized its fleet and set the day and time of the assault. Then it was forced to retreat at the last minute after the detection of the two ballistic missiles over the Mediterranean sea by Russian radars. Aggression has faced undefeatable equations imposed by a strong will, essentially built on the Syrian decision to defend itself whatever the price, and an exceptional courage displayed by the axis of the resistance -Iran and Hezbollah- with the strong support of the Russian partner. The latter has crowned its deterrent diplomacy by the chemical initiative, which has provided the United States an acceptable exit.
 
In this context, the attitude of Saudi Arabia is illogical. Because it is America that takes the decisions, issues orders and sets goals. The kingdom simply execute the orders. Such the rule has always been, and when King Faisal tried to break them during the 1973 war, he was assassinated.
 
Saudi Arabia’s request to destroy Syria is shameful. The old Kingdom, which has a lot of money, do not have the means to change the regional and international balances that forced President Obama to back down. Also, Saudi anger will have no practical effect, except to continue to support terrorist gangs in Syria and to encourage its agents gathered in political coalitions to delay Geneva 2 conference. This game can continue until the United States continue to flee its commitment to stop supporting terrorism in Syria or when the Syrian Arab army deadly blows gangs financed and armed by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and who have in their ranks thousands of Saudis nationals.
 
Second: Saudi anger against the dialogue between the U.S. and Iran is a desperate move, because the U.S. decision to enter into a dialogue with the Islamic Republic came after three decades of blockade, sabotage, sanctions, pressure and propaganda campaigns initiated by Riyadh and Israel. This period was marked by direct and intelligence wars, which have failed to break Iran’s will to resist. Instead, the tenacity of the people and the leadership of Iran has forced the West to recognize Tehran as a regional power and as an international actor.
 
Since the first Gulf War (1981), the invasion of Lebanon by Israel (1982), the invasion of Iraq (2003), the war in Syria (2011), the aggression against Gaza (2009 & 2012) and the July 2006 war in Lebanon, Western and Israeli projects have failed miserably. The United States can only draw conclusions from the setbacks they suffered that the dialogue is their only choice. Saudi Arabia as well has no other choice. The irritation and the hysterical attitude will not change this reality.
 
Finally, the third reason spread by pro-Saudi writers is that the anger of the kingdom is also due to the fact that the Americans put the interests of Israel at the top of their priorities. It’s a joke that makes you smile. Everyone knows that the Wahhabi kingdom was the most faithful servant of American and Israeli interests. All know and remember that the first Gulf War, which was to bleed and weaken Iran, was funded for eight years by the money of petrodollars, which were also very general with the Israeli wars against the resistance in Lebanon. Targeting President Bashar al-Assad for 13 years is also the greatest service that Saudi can make to Israel.
Since the founding of the Saudi kingdom, the country is dedicated to serve the goals set by colonialist and imperialist powers, against the interests of the peoples of the region.
 
The attempt to introduce the Israeli dimension in its anger doesn’t mislead anyone, because for decades, Saudi has never undertaken anything to stop the colonization of Palestinian or to protect al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. But it is ready to rush the whole region in the throes of a total war to fight Iran, even if it means to exacerbate, as never before, the discord between Sunnis and Shiites.
______________________________________________________________

Statements
 
Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s President


«Saudi Arabia publically supports  the armed groups and implements sincerely the policies of the United States. Syria is to negotiate with  the boss and not with the executioners. It is still early to talk about his candidacy for Presidency in the coming elections before setting the date for the elections. There is no reason for me, however, as not to be a candidate. I call on the UN envoy to Syria, Elakhdar Al-Ibrahimi, to commit himself to his task and not to deviate from it. 

The struggle is now with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates like al-Nusra front and the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Bilad al-Sham. The ongoing in Syria is different from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, particularly as far as foreign intervention, and flow of money and terrorists, not to mention the peculiarity of Syria, political situation and the  structure of the State. Carrying weapons transforms any opposition into terrorism. The West wasn’t interested in fighting terrorism in the 70s and 80s.

Syria allied itself with all countries to combat terrorism, including the USA. Terrorism can’t be used as a card and Syria has ever been against terrorism. The United States has done none for making success of the peace process. Syria has been flexible with the Americans as far as combating terrorism and Mideast peace process.

The use of arms against the State started since the early days of the crisis, where the Syrian police personnel were martyred. Moslem brotherhood is an opportunist terrorist group, based on hypocrisy, and exploits religion for political gains.

Since 1997 Syria stopped the production of chemical weapons. The factors leading to the success of the proposed Geneva 2 aren’t available. Syria is ready to attend the said conference with no preconditions. The crisis is to be solved once the flow of weapons, money and terrorists would stop.

Syria is ready to support and back up the Resistance. The Resistance in the Golan is a popular decision and emerges once the State is to renounce the policy of liberating the land. If Hamas were to be resistance, we are with it; if it decided to be Moslem Brotherhood, there is no need for relation with it. Qatar has struck arms deals with eastern Europe states and transferred them to Syria. Qatar should stop supporting terrorists and stop interference in the domestic affairs of Syria. Turkey’s premier, Erdogan, like the Moslem Brotherhood, exploits religion in an opportunistic way and the aim of both is to ascend power. Many countries have changed their policies regarding Syria.»

 
Beshara Raï, patriarch of the maronite church
 
«The international community is trying to show the world that Christians and Muslims cannot live together and that any intercultural and interreligious coexistence is impossible, while they have a 1,400 years old common culture. However, this policy has succeeded in fomenting war between moderate Muslims and extremists in the Middle East. We hold in high esteem the position of the Russian -Church and state- of the need to put an end to the Syrian war and safeguard the Christian presence. The Eastern Christians need peace and stability. Western countries should stop fueling the conflict in Syria by sending weapons.»

 
Naïm Kassem, deputy secretary general of Hezbollah
 
«March-14 seeks to paralyze the entire country until the presidential election. They do not even do that because it is in their interest or because they came to this conclusion after much thought, but rather because an Arab Gulf state ordered them to freeze government formation in Lebanon pending developments in Syria. The Gulf Arab state hopes that within two or three months, the equation will change in Syria to his advantage and he believes he will be able to impose a government that suits him in Lebanon. But they dream, there will be nothing in two months or in five or beyond.»

 
Saad Hariri, Leader of the Future Movement
 
«
The Syrian regime decided to wage a dirty war through its local agents against Tripoli and its residents. After the ISF’s Information Branch succeeded to reveal the criminal network behind the explosions in Tripoli, an order was issued to punish Tripoli and drag it into a civil battle. The criminal head in Damascus is the mastermind of all crimes. It wants to drown Tripoli with armed chaos, and target the city its residents with militia groups that are being armed. This is the truth that everyone knows, whether President Michel Suleiman, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati or army commander General Jean Qahwaji as well as all the security and military leaders. Everyone is holding high-level security meetings, but their results go with the wind immediately. Is it acceptable that the Lebanese army turns into a false witness in the war against Tripoli? Is it correct for the security forces to watch what is happening and announce their inability to face the dangers against the city?»

 
Turki al-Faysal, Former Saudi intelligence chief

 
«Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as Hizbullah continues to implement its own agenda without giving any consideration to law and order. The party is willing to risk the foundations on which the entire Lebanese political system was built in order to prevent the collapse of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and impede the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that is probing the assassination of Hariri. Saudi Arabia believes that the law needs to be imposed in Lebanon and it supports all efforts aimed at putting an end to Hizbullah’s intervention in Syria and bringing its leaders who are suspected of being involved in the Hariri murder to court.»
___________________________________________________________

Events
 
  • Clashes between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli continued for a fifth day on Saturday, as casualties continued to rise. At least ten people have been killed in the Lebanese city since Monday. Al-Islami hospital told the Lebanese National News Agency that it was treating up to 10 people injured in the conflict, most with relatively stable conditions. Friday’s Muslim sermon and prayer were the first period of relative quiet the city has experienced in days, as fighting was temporarily halted. In a call for government action, the former general director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, Ashraf al-Rifi, called for an end to the clashes. “What is happening is unacceptable under any circumstances and must be stopped immediately,” Rifi said in a press release on Friday, echoing condemnations by numerous other Lebanese political figures. Tripoli has endured sporadic clashes since 2011, as the two-year Syrian conflict heightened tensions in the northern Lebanese city.
  • A clash took place in the Bekaa Thursday between a patrol of Lebanese army intelligence and armed elements carrying 250 kilograms of explosives. Two criminals, one of whom was wearing an explosive belt, were killed and two others, a Lebanese and a Syrian arrested. Moreover, Elnashra.com site reported that the Lebanese Army arrested on Wednesday, four Syrians who were trying to illegally enter Ersal with their weapons. The soldiers confiscated four AK47 machine guns and ammunition.
  • The Syrian authorities late Wednesday released 49 activist female prisoners in exchange of the release of the Lebanese pilgrims who were kidnapped by Syrian rebels, activists reported. Among the freed prisoners is young blogger Tal al-Mallouhi, who was imprisoned in late 2009 after writing a blog calling on President Bashar al-Assad to expedite reforms in the country. Syrian activist Sima Nassar told AFP that “since Tuesday the Syrian authorities have released 64 of the 128 prisoners due to be freed as part of the agreement”. “Syrian authorities have ordered some prisoners to leave Syrian territory while others were given a choice to stay or leave,” she added. Among those released were a Lebanese, two Palestinians and a Syrian who had been imprisoned because her uncle is a dissident and her father a dissident lawyer, Nassar said.
______________________________________________________________

Press review
 
As Safir (Lebanese daily, Arab nationalist)
Mohammad Ballout, Paris (October 25, 2013)
 
How the Saudis will compensate for the loss of Aazaz  Lebanese hostages? The question arises because the nine former Lebanese hostages in Syria were the real purpose of the attack by Abu Omar al- Kuwaiti group against Aazaz to prevent their release. It was for this group to recover the hostages to add cards that Saudi intelligence seeking to hold in northern Syria to use against Hezbollah.
 
A Syrian source who tried to mediate in the case of the Lebanese hostages a year ago explained that the policy conducted by the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, now plans to compensate for the loss of these hostages by substituting other hostages as soon as possible. Especially since experience has shown that such a card is a factor of significant pressure on Hezbollah public, to try in the future to limit the participation of Hezbollah to the fight in Syria.
 
The source, who works as mediator to release hostages, from all nationalities, held precisely by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and al-Nosra Front in Syria, also argues that the hostages were assigned to these two groups because they reject till this moment any mediation for their release. They haven’t release any hostages until now.
 
Another Syrian source reports that al-Nosra and the Islamic state group keep under detention in a prison near el-Tabka dam in eastern Syria, four French hostages, two Spanish and a German national. He’s a doctor removed while he was in a hospital in Aazaz a month ago. The emir of Islamic State in Tabka Abu Lokman, was given two french by Abu Yacoub, one of the emirs of al-Nosra in Rakka. According to this source, a close Syrian mediator of Islamic State, who visited the hostages in prison ten days ago, ensures that they are still alive.
 
The Saudi intelligence and the Turks have influence over these groups through large arms shipments benefiting in particular to al-Nosra for over a year. As for the policy of these groups, which is to accumulate the hostages, it would be due, according to the source, to their willingness to take cards to exert pressures on all parties.
 
A connoisseur of the case of former Lebanese hostages shows that Qatar, without which it would not have been possible to obtain the release of Lebanese prisoners, is currently reviewing its position vis-à-vis Syria and Iran. The US-Russian agreement on negotiations in Geneva, has, it seems, made ​​it imperative for Qatar to be realistic and to respond positively to the U.S. decision. The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad, would have picked up the signal given by Washington’s decision to change its approach to the Syrian crisis. It is therefore possible that Lebanese personalities such as Nabih Berri and Hezbollah representatives would be invited to Doha soon.
 
It seems that the Qataris have avoided any frontal collision with the United States on Syria, unlike the Saudis, who have chosen to continue their war against the Syrian regime and Iran and try to obstruct the Geneva 2 conference. A Syrian opposition also cited U.S. officials as saying that the Saudis still betting on a military solution in Syria. According to U.S. officials, the United States rejected a Saudi request to postpone by one year the Geneva conference until the armed opposition reinforce their positions on the battleground.
 
A French diplomat believes that holding the conference in Geneva is no longer a doubt but that this peace talks will be doomed to failure because of the imbalance of forces in favor of the regime. “We are preparing for the post-Geneva,” he said. He also revealed that Europeans have again invited the Saudis to stop helping the Salafis and jihadists in Syria and said that Saudi officials have again promised to do so.

 
As Safir (October 24, 2013)
 
The Director of General Security (GS), Abbas Ibrahim, visited yesterday Damascus, where he was received, for almost an hour, by President Bashar al- Assad, with whom he discussed the case of the two bishops held by Syrian rebels. In order to make things happen, Abbas Ibrahim will make several visits abroad, the first to be probably to Doha. Several contacts have also been made between Ibrahim and assistant international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the issue. It seems that the contacts are at an advanced stage, making necessary the meeting between Assad and Ibrahim. The Syrian president have reacted favorably to the proposals of the GS chief and would have immediately instructed the concerned Syrian services, asking them to provide all possible support to the outcome of this case. General Ibrahim said the meeting was focused on the issue of two abducted bishops, saying it was positive and fruitful. Asked about the echoes on a meeting he would have had in Damascus with General Ali Mamlouk, he said he refuses to engage in a debate with anyone. Regarding the issue of Syrian detainees, he said that the case is closed “my way and nothing is pending.”

 
An Nahar (Lebanese daily close to March-14 coalition)
(October 26, 2013)
 
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati voiced the importance of the Lebanese army and security forces’ role to control the situation in the northern city of Tripoli.
 
 “We have given orders to the army and all security forces [to operate in Tripoli], and the ball is now in the security forces’ court. There is nothing that prevents the establishment of stability in a firm manner,” Miqati told An-Nahar.
 
Miqati also voiced his rejection that the city of Tripoli would turn into a mailbox for regional messages. “Tripoli will not be a mailbox or a target to send messages and it is the citizens’ right that their state protects them and prevents the killing of innocent people in their houses or on the side of the road,” he said.
He also noted that “there is a feeling prevailing in Tripoli that the city has been left to its own fate.” “There is no excuse or justification for not putting an end to the current chaos… after everyone in Tripoli removed the cover off any party that tries to destroy the situation,” he added.

 
An Nahar (October 25, 2013)
Sarkis Naoum
 
According to reports, the prime minister designate, Tammam Salam, plans to quit in the next two weeks, as he has concluded that it is impossible for him to form a government. The President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, will organize thereafter new parliamentary consultations to appoint a new prime minister who will form most likely a neutral government.

 
Al Akhbar (Lebanese Daily close to the Lebanese Resistance)
Nasser Charara (October 25, 2013)

 Until two months ago, Saudi Arabia considered Moussa Koussa, the most prominent Libyan intelligence chief under Muammar Gaddafi, a major threat to its security. But it seems that Bandar bin Sultan’s return as Saudi’s spy chief helped reset Koussa’s record and recruit him for his team.
 
Koussa, the former head of Libyan intelligence, is suddenly no longer the same dangerous man accused of planning terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia, as he had been under Gaddafi. Thanks to Bandar bin Sultan’s return, the book has been closed on Koussa’s anti-Saudi past.
 
Koussa has now been classified as “friendly,” as Bandar has enlisted Koussa’s important skills for his open-ended security operations in many parts of the world, especially Syria.
 
Reports indicate that over the past two months Riyadh subjected Koussa to the traditional procedures that Saudi uses to re-establish relations with certain figures. Accordingly, Koussa was invited by Saudi intelligence to perform the umra in Mecca, and then the hajj as a royal guest.
 
During the two visits, Koussa held long meetings with Bandar, focusing on turning the page on the past and restoring confidence. For decades Saudi Arabia accused Koussa of involvement in at least two major cases, including the well-publicized attempt to assassinate King Abdullah on the direct orders of Gaddafi, following a spat between the colonel and the king during the 2003 Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh.
 
Although Koussa had been promoted from intelligence chief to Libya’s foreign minister during that period, the Saudis still considered him the true authority of Gaddafi’s spy services, deeming his promotion a ploy to give his spy work a diplomatic cover.
 
The second, unpublicized Saudi accusation against Koussa involves what Saudi intelligence says is an important role assigned to the Libyan official by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to implement a plan to partition Saudi Arabia into five smaller states.
 
Sources familiar with Koussa’s movements in the period that followed his defection from the Gaddafi regime following the Libyan uprising, say that the former intelligence chief had been based between Doha and London. In truth, it was the British government that is credited for taking Koussa’s name off the international list of wanted Gaddafi regime figures.
 
Koussa soon forged close ties with former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim. Then, following Qatar’s withdrawal from the forefront in the war to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Riyadh, at Bandar’s initiative, opened a new chapter with Koussa, in return for his services on several issues considered vital by Saudi.
 
Questions arise: What is the nature of Koussa’s new Saudi-dictated assignments? What kind of assignment would justify Saudi putting aside its past reservations about the Libyan strongman?
 
There is speculation, according to informed sources, regarding the kind of political thinking currently prevailing in Saudi Arabia. Most prominently, Bandar is thought to be of the opinion that Saudi, as it is undergoing an era of unprecedented crisis in its international relations, especially with the United States and Russia, might need to restore Koussa’s role as an “international shadow broker,” this time working on behalf of Saudi.
 
Indeed, as a result of rubbing shoulders with many in the international intelligence community, Bandar realizes that Koussa is well-qualified for this kind of assignment. For one thing, Koussa engineered more than once solutions for Gaddafi’s problems with the West, concluding political deals on behalf of the Libyan dictator by finding security- and intelligence-related common grounds with his foes.
 
It seems that the head of Saudi intelligence intends to assign Gaddafi’s top security man to put his international intelligence relations to use to conclude political-intelligence deals on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

 
Al Akhbar (October 24, 2013)
Elie Chalhoub
 
After the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas suddenly found itself isolated, its leadership scattered across the region. Any attempt to return to the resistance camp, however, will likely meet with failure.
 
It’s unlikely that we will see any kind of reconciliation between Hamas and its former allies of the so-called resistance axis, particularly Iran and Syria. President Bashar al-Assad’s many public statement confirm this.
 
The very idea of Hamas leaving Syria in 2011 was not even on the table before the events in Egypt last June and July that saw the toppling of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi. At that time, the Muslim Brotherhood was on the rise in a number of countries, leading the Palestinian movement to believe that the whole region was about to open before them.
 
Iran and Hezbollah were taken aback by reports from the Syrian regime that Hamas members were involved in fighting alongside the opposition. And the worst of it was that they were using the weapons and fighting methods they gained from their former allies.
 
When Morsi was toppled and the Brotherhood suppressed, the fortunes of Hamas turned for the worse, as the tunnels of Rafah were destroyed and its members were being targeted by both the Syrian and Egyptian regimes. This put the resistance camp before two choices: either leave Hamas to its fate, something that would above all benefit the Israeli enemy, or find a way to preserve this powerful resistance movement.
 
Both sides had a chance to test the waters when Hamas leader Mohammed Nasr visited Tehran, supposedly to pay respects to the Revolutionary Guards’ commander, Qassem Sulemani, after his mother passed away. Nasr expressed the Palestinian movement’s interest in reestablishing ties with Iran, something that the latter welcomed, but with conditions.
 
Although there are those in Iran who are reluctant to give Hamas a second chance, Damascus is demanding a heavy price for any reconciliation, such as calling for the removal of Khaled Meshaal from the party’s leadership, and insisting – as Assad did in a recent interview – that it must choose between being a resistance movement or a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Many in the Syrian capital are convinced that this change of heart on the part of Hamas has more to do with the difficult situation they find themselves in today rather than any realization that they have committed serious mistakes, in which case the movement could very well switch positions again, if circumstances in the region turn in its favor.
 
Recent expressions of regret from Hamas officials – for example, when a senior member recently said that Meshaal had raised the Syrian opposition flag “by mistake” during his visit to Gaza at the end of 2012 – appear to be an attempt, however modest, at fulfilling some of the conditions the resistance axis has placed on the Palestinian movement’s return.
 
It is true that there are those within Hamas whose main concerns are limited to their liberation struggle and blame Meshaal for implicating the movement in other countries’ disputes. This has led the politburo leader to offer his resignation over the past few weeks, if it would solve the problem. However, the dominant current in the party opposes such a step, fearing that no matter what the movement does, it will never regain the position it once had in the resistance axis.

 
Al Akhbar (October 23, 2013)
Amal Khalil
 
Has the Arab Spring contagion finally reached Lebanon’s Shia Amal Movement? Possibly. Though the change being talked about today in the party leaves the top leadership intact.
 
Nabih Berri, leader of Amal and Lebanese speaker of parliament, tells Al-Akhbar, “We will see change in Amal that will affect everything and all posts.” The Shia party says it is in the process of promoting a younger generation of activists into leadership posts, replacing ineffective elements at all levels of the organization.
 
But this change will not affect the Presidential Council, which extended Berri’s and six other members’ terms. “The changes will begin to take effect between now and a month and a half at the most, impacting the party from top to bottom,” says Amal MP Hani Kobeissy, who is in charge of the South. “It will include all those who have not been able to fulfill their duties.”
 
Kobeissy, however, readily admits that there are many party officials who find it hard to balance between making a living and carrying out their organizational duties, due to the fact that Amal does not have the resources to finance full-time positions in many areas.
 
The centerpiece of the change underway is to fast track younger party members, particularly from the universities, bypassing the existing bureaucratic practice of having to serve a long term in the lower ranks of the organization before even reaching mid-level positions.
 
According to Kobeissy, part of the goal is break up the routine of party activity, whereby Amal will be establishing a permanent school to train new members. The group will also develop its youth groups, such as the scouts, possibly helping to reverse the loss of members to Hezbollah over the past years.
 
Berri understands that some of the problems stem from his inability to stay on top of the organization and maintain contact with the rank and file, mainly due to either the constant threat to his personal security or, as he puts it, “organizational burnout” after 33 years of leading the movement.

 
Al Akhbar (October 23, 2013)
Racha Abi Haidar
 
There are indications of an imminent battle in western Ghouta, the agricultural belt surrounding Damascus. The battle will have long-term strategic implications, especially in terms of expanding the “safe zone” protecting the Syrian capital.
 
For some time now, all eyes have been on east Ghouta near Damascus, especially in the wake of the area’s chemical attack. Yet for weeks the Syrian army has been pressing ahead with operations in western Ghouta, witnessing rapid advances and regaining control over Husseiniya, Dhiyabiya, and Bouweida.
 
A field source told Al-Akhbar that preparations are underway for an offensive in the area, which will include the towns surrounding the Sayyida Zainab district. The offensive will have significant military consequences: cutting off a major militant supply route from the Golan and Daraa; expanding the buffer zone protecting Damascus; and reopening the main route to Sayyida Zainab.
 
The Syrian army is gearing up for the new battle in towns like Beit Sahm, Hujeira, Yalda, Babila, and Gharba, in continuation of the offensive it started months ago, according to the same field source. The source explained, “The militants in western Ghouta are not as formidable as they once were. They are scattered and confused. For many of them, the government is much more merciful than al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
 
It is no secret that there are contacts between Syrian army defectors and Syrian army officers, thanks to the army’s advances. The source said that some of the defectors have placed themselves at the disposal of the government and even provided security services, facilitating current and future operations on the ground.
 
The source provided details about the nature of the towns expected to witness battles. He said that Hujeira, which is located nearly half a mile northwest of the Sayyida Zainab shrine, is geographically one of the largest areas that will be included in the offensive. The source asserted, “This will not prevent it from being liberated in a very short time.”
 
There is widespread anxiety among the ranks of the militants over the impending army offensive, said the source. There are contacts underway between senior opposition leaders and the army to reach a settlement and hand over the town to the regime.
More than 10 mi
litant groups are active in Hujeira, each comprising anywhere from 20 to 200 fighters. Most of the fighters are originally refugees from the Golan Heights. The most powerful groups are the Descendants of the Prophet Brigades and the Martyrs of the Golan Brigade.
 
The source said that these fighters “have an extremely bad reputation,” on account of the robberies and other assaults they carried out.
 
In Beit Sahm, north of Sayyida Zainab, there were reconciliation attempts earlier this year between the Ministry of National Reconciliation and opposition groups. The militants control the inner parts of the town, while the segments adjacent to the airport road are controlled by the Syrian army.
 
The same source recounted how the militants turned out to be misleading the government in order to bring supplies to the town, and how after they did so, they reneged on the agreement. More than a month ago, local residents revived reconciliation efforts, and 50 people from Beit Sahm were handed over to the authorities. These individuals later turned out to be civilians who had nothing to do with the militants. The militants in Beit Sahm continue to play such games, bringing negotiations almost to a halt.
 
Yalda, bordered by Hujeira to the south and Babila to the east, is home to several radical Islamist brigades. The radical Islamists here reportedly deal arrogantly with other militants in surrounding areas while imposing their own laws through a local authority.
 
Babila is also controlled by radical Islamists and home to a large number of foreign jihadis and a Sharia court. Gharba, about half a mile west of Sayyida Zainab, has nearly been razed to the ground, and is currently controlled by al-Nusra Front. In this area, al-Nusra collaborates with the group that goes by the name Environs of Jerusalem, which consists of extremists close to Hamas.
 
The battle of western Ghouta will further pressure the militants throughout the entire Damascus countryside. The source said, “[Retaking] these villages is a matter of days, no more. These areas relied on fighters from al-Hajar al-Aswad, but in recent battles, no support came because of their scattered ranks and their treachery.” “There is a particular strategy and a great comprehension of the enemy’s military thinking, especially after [the Syrian army] infiltrated opposition ranks, even at the level of the leadership,” he added.

 
Al Akhbar (October 22, 2013)
Ibrahim al-Amin
 
Saudi Arabia may reluctantly consent to supporting the Geneva II conference on Syria in November – but at a cost: Riyadh wants to impose a Lebanese government of its own liking in order to get Hezbollah out of Syria.
 
The UN’s special Syria envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is still waiting to get an appointment with the Saudis as he makes the rounds in the region to prepare for the Geneva II talks. Visiting Saudi Arabia is critical for the envoy’s mission to succeed. Brahimi knows that without Riyadh’s support, the peace conference is unlikely to make much headway.
 
Brahimi may be reassured that the United States and Russia have gone so far as to set a date for the talks, but the man who has a long history of dealing with complicated negotiations is pragmatic enough to know that the cooperation of regional powers like Iran and Saudi are critical to achieve the task at hand.
 
With Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt softening their stance toward the Syrian regime, the UN envoy is trying to lay the groundwork for the Geneva talks by focusing on three levels. On the international level, he has been given the blessing of the two main world powers – the US and Russia. On the regional level, Iran has welcomed his efforts, with Saudi still holding out. And finally, on the internal Syrian front, he has mended fences somewhat with the regime, as he tries to cobble together a credible delegation that would represent the opposition.
 
Brahimi realizes that the warring sides may push for an escalation in order to gain territory or score a victory in advance of Geneva II. In particular, the opposition’s American and Saudi backers want to put a stop to the regime’s recent gains on many fronts by focusing their forces on the capital. Riyadh, for example, has been reinforcing its militias’ presence in the western suburbs of Damascus as well as the mountains that run along the northern border of Lebanon.
 
Washington says it is doing all it can to convince the Syrian opposition and its regional supporters to back Geneva II, trying to find a way to offer the Saudis – who feel that they have the most to lose from entering negotiations with the Bashar al-Assad regime – something in return for their participation in the peace conference. Many indicators suggest that Riyadh wants to be rewarded in Lebanon, in the form of imposing a government of their choosing.
 
That’s why we are hearing talk in Lebanese political circles, particularly among those under Saudi influence, that a government will finally see the light of day before Lebanon’s Independence Day on November 22. Riyadh hopes to form a government that would ultimately pressure Hezbollah to pull its forces out of Syria, which is currently the monarchy’s overwhelming priority.
 
But the Saudis are unaware of the risks involved in such a venture. They may realize that all sides to the Syrian conflict are moving in the direction of a political resolution and compromise, but they are also aware that the concessions being asked of them are greater that those demanded of any other party to the crisis. The problem is that their March 14 allies in Lebanon are in such a weakened state, that a sectarian cataclysm may be necessary to reverse their losses and allow them to carry out their Saudi mission.

 
NowLebanon (Website close to March-14 coalition)
Karen Boulos (October 25, 2013)
 
A man from Tripoli’s Bab al-Raml was killed Thursday night in Syria’s Qalamoun, where a fierce battle between regime troops aided by Hezbollah fighters and rebels is expected to erupt.
 
The man, identified as Ali Hussein al-Jbeily and dubbed “Abou Ammar,” was “martyred in defense of the dignity of the Ummah [nation],” according to his obituary.
 
“Martyrdom in defense of the dignity of the Ummah” is an Islamic term for fighting in defense of the Muslim “nation,” and is an implicit reference that he died in fighting against the Syrian regime.
 
In recent weeks media reports have said that the Syrian regime backed by Hezbollah fighters are poised to launch an offensive in the Qalamoun region of Syria along Lebanon’s eastern Beqaa.
 
Lebanese daily As-Safir reported last week that the anticipated Qalamoun battle will have significant repercussions on Lebanon’s security.
 
A source from the Free Syrian Army told the pro-Syrian regime newspaper that the repercussions “will not be restricted to the usual security threats,” but will rather include a wide deployment of Syrian rebels in Lebanese towns.

 
Al Joumhouria (Lebanese daily close to March-14 coalition)
Johnny Mnayyar (October 24, 2013)

 
The dialogue between Washington and Tehran irritates Saudi Arabia, which sees no welcome a restoration of relations between the two capitals. The reception of the Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad in France and rumors in diplomatic backstage announcing a contact imminent, though indirect, between Washington and Hezbollah, through a Lebanese official personality undoubtedly inflame anger Saudi officials.

 
Jerusalem Post (Israeli daily, October 24, 2013)
 
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday that a “civil war” has erupted in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Global Jihad elements that have attempted to drag Israel into the conflict.
 
“To those who are not yet aware, there is already a civil war in Lebanon. Global Jihad, which has infiltrated Lebanon and is attacking Hezbollah, is blowing up car bombs in Dahia and is firing rockets at Dahia and the Beka’a Valley,” he said, referencing recent attacks on Hezbollah strongholds.
 
Ya’alon stated that the same Global Jihad elements were behind the firing of four rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon in August.
 
The defense minister claimed that the Global Jihad elements were attempting to elicit an Israeli response against Hezbollah with the rocket fire. “However Hezbollah was quick to deflect responsibility, saying ‘it wasn’t me.’ This is another example of our deterrence capability,” he said.
 
Ya’alon stated that Israel’s power of deterrence was also successfully keeping Hamas at bay and preventing attacks from the Gaza Strip.
 
The Defense Minister said that Iran poses the greatest threat to Israel by arming proxies such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
 
“We are certainly talking about a regime with ambitions of world hegemony, and therefore we say that an unconventional regime such as this, that wishes to see the world as an Islamic Caliphate in its mold, must absolutely not have unconventional weapons, in this case nuclear weapons.”
 
Ya’alon called on Western leaders not to “give into the temptation” of the Iranian “charm offensive.” “This is exactly what the Iranians want: eased sanctions before they stop their military nuclear project,” he warned.