Bahrain’s top Shia cleric Isa Qassim in critical condition under house arrest

Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, at his house in the northwestern Bahraini village of Diraz on November 26, 2017

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8:00 PM) – The health conditon of Bahrain’s supreme Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has deteriorated to a point of mortal danger. This was said in a statement released by human rights organisation Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) on Monday.

According to BIRD, physicians who had visited Sheikh Isa Qassim in the northwestern village of Diraz, said the Ayatollah suffers from a “groin hernia requiring an emergency operation.”

“Such an operation carries a high mortality risk at Sheikh Isa Qassim´s age. He also suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and a form of heart disease,” the statement continues.

According to Ali al-Aswad, former deputy of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the Bahraini regime is the prime culprit for the Sheikh’s worsening condition.

“Whoever decides to put Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim under house arrest is the one who will bear this responsibility henceforth,”Aswad said.

The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society used to be Bahrain’s largest political party and was founded by Isa Qassim, but was dissolved and banned by the emirate’s pro-Saudi regime in 2016 due to being of a mainly Shia religious orientation. Ever since, Qassim has been under virtual house arrest.

Earlier reports said that on Sunday, the cleric’s house was surrounded by Bahraini security forces, possibly to deter any potential attempts to breach the Ayatollah’s de facto house arrest.

Sheikh Isa Qassim has been officially stateless since June 2016, when the Manama regime stripped him of his nationality amidst a crackdown on dissent in the majority Shia kingdom. The Ayatollah faces official charges of “illegal fund collections, money laundering and helping terrorism” as well as “serving foreign interests” and promoting “sectarianism and violence,” charges which Qassim has all denied. Since the start of legal procedures against him, supporters of the Sheikh have been holding daily sit-ins and protests at his house in Dizar, which have regularly been met with deadly police violence.

The Sunni monarchy, led by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah and supported by Saudi Arabia, has stepped up its repression of Shia organisations since the 2011 mass protests against the regime. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahraini regime in its crackdown on dissent, and since March the Khalifah regime has allowed military tribunals to organise trials of civilian protesters.

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Bahrain: Serious Deterioration in Sheikh Issa Qassem’s Health

Sheikh Issa Qassem

A serious deterioration in the health of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Al-Qassem was reported late Sunday, as the leading Bahraini cleric, who has been for months under house arrest by Al-Khalifa regime forces, is suffering from internal bleeding.

Bahrain Mirror Online Newspaper reported that the health condition of Ayatollah Qassem is dangerous, adding that the prominent Shia cleric lost half of his body weight.

The website said the health condition of Sheikh Issa Al-Qassem is worrying, indicating that the leading cleric is suffering from dangerous internal bleeding that needs hospital treatment.

Bahrain Mirror said the deterioration of Sheikh Q1assem’s health was due to hard conditions caused by the siege imposed by Al-Khalifa regime on his house in Diraz.

The website added that Sheikh Qassem’s family calls for an international medical team to be granted access to treat the leading cleric, stressing that any medical team which would be tasked by the regime can’t be trusted.


SourceBahrain Mirror

B is for Book Burners

November 23, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

book burners.jpg

The New York Daily News reports that Leaders of a prominent West Side synagogue are threatening to cancel a book fair next month unless a nearby store ditches a pro-Palestine children’s book.

P is for Palestine” teaches children the alphabet using Palestinian references. But Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch  (photo above) of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue said it also glorifies violence.

“The book states that ‘I is for Intifada,’ Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!” Rabbi Hirsch said in an open letter posted on the temple’s website. “The intifada was not ‘a rising up for what is right.’ It was a mass descent into immorality.”

It would be helpful if the Rabbi explains to us how a popular uprise against a brutal racist occupier is ‘immoral.’  I would also like to learn from the rabbi whether book burning is a reform Jewish value, it has clearly become a popular exercise.

The book “P is for Palestine” is on sale at the Book Culture bookstore on Columbus Ave. on the Upper West Side.

Or buy online here 

Live from Baghdad: the secret of Iraq’s renaissance

November 14, 2017

by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)

BAGHDAD – On a sandstorm-swept morning in Baghdad earlier last week, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the legendary deputy leader of Hashd al-Shaabi, a.k.a. People Mobilization Units (PMUs) and the actual mastermind of numerous ground battles against ISIS/Daesh, met a small number of independent foreign journalists and analysts.

This was a game-changing moment in more ways than one. It was the first detailed interview granted by Mohandes since the fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani – the immensely respected marja (source of emulation) and top clerical authority in Iraq – in June 2014, when Daesh stormed across the border from Syria. The fatwa, loosely translated, reads, “It is upon every Iraqi capable of carrying guns to volunteer with the Iraqi Armed Forces to defend the sanctities of the nation.”

Mohandes took time out of the battlefield especially for the meeting, and then left straight for al-Qaim. He was sure “al-Qaim will be taken in a matter of days” – a reference to the crucial Daesh-held Iraqi border town connecting to Daesh stronghold Abu Kamal in Syria.

That’s exactly what happened only four days later; Iraqi forces immediately started a mop up operation and prepared to meet advancing Syrian forces at the border – yet more evidence that the recomposition of the territorial integrity of both Iraq and Syria is a (fast) work in progress.

The meeting with Mohandes was held in a compound inside the massively fortified Green Zone – an American-concocted bubble kept totally insulated from ultra-volatile red zone Baghdad with multiple checkpoints and sniffer dogs manned by US contractors.

Adding to the drama, the US State Department describes Mohandes as a “terrorist”. That amounts in practice to criminalizing the Iraqi government in Baghdad – which duly released an official statement furiously refuting the characterization.

The PMUs are an official body with tens of thousands of volunteers linked to the office of the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces. The Iraqi Parliament fully legalized the PMUs in November 2016 via resolution 91 (item number 4, for instance, states that “the PMU and its affiliates are subject to military regulations that are enforced from all angles.”)

Its 25 combat brigades – comprising Shi’ites, Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabak and Kurds – have been absolutely crucial in the fight against Daesh in Samarra, Amerli, Jalawla, Balad, Salahuddin, Fallujah (35 different battles), Shirqat and Mosul (especially over the western axis from Qayarah base to the Iraq-Syrian border, cutting off supply chains and sealing Mosul from an attempted Daesh escape to Syria).

Retaking Kirkuk “in a matter of hours”

Mohandes describes the PMUs as “an official military force” which plays a “complementary role” to the Iraqi Army. The initial plan was for the PMUs to become a national guard – which in fact they are now; “We have recon drones and engineering units that the Army does not have. We don’t mind if we are called gendarmes.” He’s proud the PMUs are fighting an “unconventional war”, holding the high ground “militarily and morally” with “victories achieved in record time”. And “contrary to Syria”, with no direct Russian support.

Mohandes is clear that Iran was the only nation supporting Iraq’s fight against Daesh. Iraq reciprocated by helping Syria, “facilitating over flights by Iranian planes.” With no Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Baghdad, “the Americans withdrew companies that maintain Abrams tanks.” In 2014

“we didn’t even have AK-47s. Iran gave them to us. The US embassy had 12 Apache helicopters ready to transport diplomats if Baghdad fell to Daesh”.

One year later, “Baghdad would have been occupied” were not for the PMUs; “It’s like you’re in a hospital and you need blood. The Americans would show up with the transfusion when it was too late.” He is adamant “the US did not provide a single bullet” in the overall fight against Daesh. And yet, Mohandes clarifies that the “US may stay in Iraq should the Iraqi government decide it. My personal opinion is well known.”

Mohandes considers the [Western] “media war waged against Hashd al-Shaabi” as “normal from the beginning”; “Countries that supported terrorism would not perceive that a popular force would emerge, and did not recognize the new political system in Iraq.” On that note, he added ruefully, “you can smell petrol”.

Mohandes was personally wounded in Halabja and also in Anfal – Saddam Hussein’s anti-Kurdish operations. He was “pleased to see Kurdistan saved after 1991”; stresses “we had martyrs who fell in Kurdistan defending them”; and considers himself a friend of the Kurds, keeping good relations with their leaders. Iranian advisors, alongside the Iraqi Army and the PMUs, also “prevented Daesh from conquering Erbil.”

Yet after a “unilateral referendum, Iraq had to assert the authority of the state”. Retaking Kirkuk – largely a PMU operation – was “a matter of hours”; the PMUs “avoided fighting and stayed only in the outskirts of Kirkuk”. Mohandes previously discussed operational details with the Peshmerga, and there was full coordination with both Iran and Turkey; “It’s a misconception that Kurdish leaders could rely on Turkey.”

Fallujah, finally secured

The PMUs absolutely insist on their protection of ethnic minorities, referring to thousands of Sabak, Yazidi and Turkmen – among at least 120,000 families – forced by Daesh rule into becoming IDPs. After liberation battles were won, the PMUs provided these families with food, clothing, toys, generators and fuel. I confirmed that many of these donations came from families of PMU fighters all across the country. PMU priorities include combat engineering teams bringing families back to their areas after clearing mines and explosives, and then reopening hospitals and schools. For instance, 67,000 families were resettled into their homes in Salahuddin and 35,000 families in Diyala.

Mohandes stresses that, “in the fight against Daesh in Salahuddin and Hawija, the brigade commanders were Sunnis”. The PMUs feature a Christian Babylon brigade, a Yazidi brigade, and a Turkmen brigade; “When Yazidis were under siege in Sinjar we freed at least 300,000 people.”

Overall, the PMUs include over 20,000 Sunni fighters. Compare it with the fact that 50 per cent of Daesh’s suicide bombers in Iraq have been Saudi nationals. I confirmed with Sheikh Muhammad al-Nouri, leader of the Sunni scholars in Fallujah, “this is an ideological battle against Wahhabi ideology. We need to get away from the Wahhabi school and redirect our knowledge to other Sunni schools.” He explained how that worked on the ground in Haditha (“we were able to control mosques”) and motivated people in Fallujah, 30 minutes away; “Fallujah is an Iraqi city. We believe in coexistence.”

After 14 years in which Fallujah was not secure, and with the Haditha experience fast expanding, Sheikh Muhammad is convinced “Iraq will declare a different war on terror.”

The inclusive approach was also confirmed by Yezen Meshaan al-Jebouri, the head of the Salahuddin PMU brigade. This is crucial because he’s a member of the very prominent Sunni Jebouri family, which was historically inimical to Saddam Hussein; his father is the current governor of Tikrit. Al-Jebouri decries “the state corruption in Sunni regions”, an “impression of injustice” and the fact that for Daesh, “Sunnis who did not follow them should also be killed.” He’s worried about “the Saudi accumulation of developed weapons. Who guarantees these won’t be used against the region?” And he refuses the notion that “we are looked upon by the West as part of the Iranian project.”

Military victory meets political victory

Far from the stereotyped “terrorist”, Mohandes is disarmingly smart, witty and candid. And a full-blooded Iraqi patriot; “Iraq now reinstates its position because of the blood of its sons. We needed to have a military force capable of fighting an internal threat. We are accomplishing a religious national and humanitarian duty.” Soldiers apart, thousands of extra PMU volunteers do not receive salaries. Members of Parliament and even Ministers were active in the battlefield. Mohandes is proud that “we have a chain of command just like the army”; that the PMUs harbor “thousands of people with college degrees”; that they run “dozens of field hospitals, intensive care units” and have “the strongest intel body in Iraq.”

In Baghdad, I personally confirmed the narrative accusing the PMUs of being Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s private army is nonsense. If that was the case, Grand Ayatollah Sistani should take the blame, as he conceptually is the father of the PMUs. Hadi al-Amiri, the secretary-general of the powerful Badr organization, also extremely active in the fight against Daesh, stressed to me the PMUs are “part of the security system, integrated with the Ministry of Defense”. But now “we need universities and emphasis on education.”

Pakistani Prof. Hassan Abbas, from the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University in Washington, went even further, as we extensively discussed not only Iraq and Syria but also Afghanistan and Pakistan; “Iraq is now in a unique position heading towards a democratic, pluralistic society”, proving that “the best answer to sectarianism is religious harmony.” This “inclusiveness against Takfirism” must now connect in the streets “with the rule of law and a fair justice system”. Abbas points out that the base for Iraq to build up is law enforcement via scientific investigation; “Policing is the first line of defense”.

Baghdad has been able, almost simultaneously, to pull off two major game-changers; a military victory in Mosul and a political victory in Kirkuk. If Iraq stabilizes, erasing the Daesh death cult, so will Syria. As al-Jebouri notes, “now every community must have a cut of the cake.” At least 7 million jobs and pensions are paid by Baghdad. People want the return of regularly paid salaries. That starts with decent security all over the country. Mohandes was the engineer – his actual profession – of key battles against Daesh. There’s a wide consensus in Baghdad that without him Daesh would be firmly installed in the Green Zone.

Hashd al-Shaabi is already an Iraqi pop phenomenon, reflected in this huge hit by superstar Ali al-Delfi. From pop to politics is another matter entirely. Mohandes is adamant the PMUs won’t get involved in politics, “and directly won’t contest elections. If someone does, and many individuals are now very popular, they have to leave Hashd.”

From hybrid warfare to national renewal

After days talking to Hashd al-Shaabi personnel and observing how they operate a complex hybrid warfare battlefield coupled with an active recruitment process and heavy presence in social media, it’s clear the PMUs are now firmly established as a backbone underpinning Iraqi state security, an array of stabilization programs – including much needed medical services – and most of all, introducing a measure of efficiency Iraq was totally unfamiliar for almost three decades.

It’s a sort of state-building mechanism springing out of a resistance ethic. As if the ominous Daesh threat, which may have led to as many as 3.1 million IDPs, shook up the collective Iraqi subconscious, awakened the Iraqi Shi’ite proletariat/disenfranchised masses, and accelerated cultural decolonization. And this complex development couldn’t be further from religious bigotry.

Amid Wilsonian eulogies and references to the Marshall Plan, Foreign Minister Ebrahim al-Jaafari is also a staunch defender of the PMUs, stressing it as “an experiment to be studied”, a “new phenomenon with a humane basis operating on a legal framework”, and “able to break the siege of solitude Iraq has suffered for years.”

Referring to the Daesh offensive, Jaafari insisted “Iraq did not commit a crime” in the first place, but hopefully there’s “a new generation of youth capable of reinforcing the experiment”. The emphasis now, following reconciliation, is on “an era of national participation”. He’s adamant that “families of Daesh members should not pay for their mistakes.” Daesh informers will be duly put on trial.

I asked the Foreign Minister if Baghdad did not fear being caught in a lethal crossfire between Washington and Tehran. His response was carefully measured. He said he had enough experience of dealing with “radical” neocons in D.C. And at the same time he was fully aware of the role of the PMUs as well as Iran in Iraq’s reassertion of sovereignty. His warm smile highlighted the conviction that out of the ashes of a cultish black death, the Iraqi renaissance was fully in effect.

حين تخرج الأفاعي من جحورها لتبثَّ سمومَ الحقد والكراهية

أكتوبر 23, 2017  –

معن حميّة

حكايات كثيرة تُروى عن «قوس قزح»، ولعلّ ما رسخ في الأذهان منها، أنّ كلّ من مرّ تحت هذا القوس قد تحوّل، عقاباً له على محظور تخطّاه! لذا اعتدنا أن نتحاشى النظر إلى قوس قزح، لنحدّق بالشمس التي هي في اتجاه معاكس له.

زمن تلك الحكايات صار وراءنا، وإنْ ظهر قوس قزح، لا يخشاه الأطفال والصبية. فأجيالنا الجديدة، لم ترَ إلاّ أقواس النصر، وهي ترتفع مع كلّ شهيد يرتقي، ومع كلّ نصر للمقاومة على العدو الصهيوني وعملائه وقوى الإرهاب والتطرف.

في لبنان تحديداً، ارتفعت أقواس نصر كثيرة.

في 21 تموز 1982، كانت الانطلاقة الفعلية لجبهة المقاومة الوطنية، بإطلاق القوميين صواريخ الكاتيوشا من سوق الخان في حاصبيا على منطقة الجليل الفلسطينية المحتلة، فأسقطت هذه العملية الشعار الذي أطلقه العدو الصهيوني على اجتياح لبنان «سلامة الجليل».

في 14 أيلول 1982، نفّذ المقاوم حبيب الشرتوني حكم الشعب ببشير الجميّل الذي نُصّب رئيساً للبنان على ظهر الدبابة «الإسرائيلية»، قبل أن يصبح رئيساً فعلياً، فأسقط هذا العمل المقاوم مشروع العدو الصهيوني بتحويل لبنان محمية «إسرائيلية» تابعة.

في 24 أيلول 1982، نفّذ المقاوم خالد علوان، عملية ضدّ ضباط وجنود الاحتلال، في مقهى الويمبي في قلب العاصمة بيروت، وشكلت تلك العملية فاتحة تحرير بيروت التي غزاها الاحتلال بالتكافل والتضامن والتآزر مع عملائه وأدواته.

في 25 أيار 2000، وبعد عقدين من مقاومة الاحتلال الصهيوني، استطاعت المقاومة تحريرَ معظم الأرض اللبنانية، وشكّل هذا التحرير حدثاً تاريخياً جعل لبنان الصغير بمساحته وعدد سكانه، كبيراً في مقاومته التي حققت ما عجزت عنه الأمم، أيّ تنفيذ القرار الدولي 425.

بين 12 تموز و14 آب 2006، واجه لبنان بمقاومته وجيشه وشعبه، حرباً «إسرائيلية» تدميرية إبادية وقفت وراءها دول كبيرة وصغيرة، وأشباه دول وأنصاف رجال وعملاء وأدوات، ورغم كلّ ذلك انتصر لبنان بمقاومته، واعترف العدو «الإسرائيلي» بالهزيمة المدوّية.

في كلّ هذه المحطات وما بينها من عمليات استشهادية وبطولية ونوعية، كانت ترتفع أقواس النصر، فتآلف اللبنانيون مع هذه الظاهرة الجديدة التي تحمل في مضامينها كلّ وقفات العزّ دفاعاً عن السيادة والكرامة.

أما تحت قوس المحكمة، فلم تتمّ الإحاطة الكاملة بملف أحد أركان هذه الانتصارات الكبيرة، التي حمت لبنان وأعادت بناء الدولة والمؤسسات. ومن تحت هذا القوس صدر حكم جائر تشوبه ثغرات قانونية ومغالطات، الأمر الذي وجدت فيه أفاعي العمالة ضالّتها، فخرجت من أوكارها، تعمشقت على حبال القرار، وجاهرت بـ «عمالة الضرورة» التي لن يمرّ عليها الزمن، وأباحت لنفسها محظور المبادئ والقيم والكرامة.

خرجت هذه الأفاعي تبثّ سموم الحقد والكراهية والفتن، كاشفة عن تموضعها مجدّداً في مربّع خياراتها ورهاناتها المشؤومة، وممارساتها التي جلبت على لبنان الخراب.

خرجت هذه الأفاعي، المتعدّدة الرؤوس والأذناب، بخطاب موحّد، يدين كلّ قوى المقاومة التي قاتلت الاحتلال الصهيوني. لأنها ترى في الحكم على حبيب الشرتوني حكماً على قوى المقاومة كلّها! وهذا ما نبّهنا إليه، ووضعنا ما لدينا من حقائق يعرفها القاصي والداني عن فعل الخيانة، وأنّ فصل الملف المتعلّق بفعل الحبيب عن سياقه التاريخي، ليس عدلاً.

السلطة القضائية، هي من مؤسسات الدولة التي استعادت حيويتها ووحدتها وهيبتها نتيجة إسقاط مخطط تقسيم لبنان، وإلحاق الهزيمة بالعدو الذي وضع هذا المخطط، وبتحرير الأرض اللبنانية من الاحتلال، لذا كان لا بدّ لهذه السلطة القضائية أن تحكم بموجب كلّ الحيثيات والدوافع الشريفة والوطنية التي كانت وراء فعل حبيب الشرتوني.

اليوم، نديم الجميّل وسمير جعجع، وغيرهما من الأتباع والمتلوّنين والمتحوّلين، يتخذون من حكم القضاء الجائر ذريعة للمطالبة بإدانة كلّ قوى المقاومة. هم كانوا ينتظرون هذا الحكم ليس لأنهم يريدون عدالة حقيقية، فهم يعرفون أنّ العدالة تحققت بإرادة الشعب قبل 35 عاماً، بل هم يريدون ركوب الموجة «الإسرائيلية» مجدّداً، لأنهم يعتبرون أنّ مَن وصل اليوم إلى سدة الرئاسة، لا يمثل خياراتهم الموغلة في العمالة.

ما تنطوي عليه خطابات الجميّل وجعجع وآخرين، تؤكد أنّ الغرف السوداء عادت لتنشط مجدّداً بخلاياها الإجرامية كلّها، وما تضمين الخطابات كلّ هذا الهجوم على الحزب القومي وقوى المقاومة، سوى مؤشر على جرعات دعم تلقاها هؤلاء للمقامرة مجدّداً بمصير البلد. ولعلّ أبلغ تعبير عن أحقادهم وخياراتهم، هو ما نطقت به النائبة ستريدا جعجع، من عبارات نابية نكأت جراحاً عميقة، ليست فقط جراح عائلة فرنجية خاصة والزغرتاويين عموماً، بل نكأت جراح عائلة كرامي والطرابلسيين، وجراح عائلات شهداء المجازر التي ارتُكبت في أكثر من منطقة لبنانية على يد الكتائبيين والقواتيين، لا سيما عائلات شهداء مجزرة عينطورة.

إنّ مَن قطع رأس الأفعى «الإسرائيلية» في لبنان، هو مَن صنع المجد لهذا البلد، أما الذين يحتفلون برمز العمالة، فهم ورثة الذلّ والخيانة، وينطبق عليهم قول سعاده:

«لا يشعرُ بالعار مَن لا يعرف العار ولا يعرفُ العار مَن لا يعرف الشرف ويا لذلّ قومٍ لا يعرفون ما هو الشرف وما هو العار».

ورثة الذلّ والخيانة يستعيدون كلّ مفردات خطاب التحريض والكراهية، وخلف هذا الخطاب الفتنوي تقف جهات عديدة، وضمناً العدو «الإسرائيلي»، وذلك بهدف النيل من المقاومة، نهجاً وفكراً وثقافة. لأنّ هذه المقاومة، دولاً وأحزاباً، أفشلت مشاريع التفتيت والتقسيم، وانتصرت على الاحتلال والإرهاب ورعاتهما.

المقاومة هي المستهدفة، ومسؤولية المؤمنين بخيار المقاومة، حماية المجتمع من آثام العمالة والخيانة، بردع الذين يضربون عرض الحائط بالثوابت والمبادئ.

الأمر شديد الخطورة، وأكثر تعقيداً، وقد آن الأوان لفضح الذين يحاولون إعادة عقارب الساعة إلى زمن الاجتياح الصهيوني، وجعل العدو الصهيوني صديقاً، بعدما أمعنوا في العداء لمحيط لبنان القومي.

مجتمعنا، يرفض أن يمارس هذا البعض من اللبنانيين طقوس العمالة والخيانة التي تتنافى مع القيم والمبادئ، ولن يسمح لهم التصرف كيفما شاؤوا، كي لا يأتي يوم، فيتفشّى هذا الوباء، ويفسد المجتمع.

عميد الإعلام في الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي

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Hezbollah Deputy S.G.: Justifying Collaboration with Zionist Enemy Won’t Acquit Israeli Agents

October 22, 2017

Sheikh Naim Qassem

Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Naim Qassem lashed out at those who justify collaboration with Israeli enemy, stressing that such attempts don’t acquit Israeli agents in Lebanon.

During a memorial ceremony on Sunday in Beirut’s southern suburb (Dahiyeh), Sheikh Qassem stressed that the Zionist occupation was and will remain Lebanon’s enemy, adding: “All those who justify collaboration with this enemy can be described as Israeli collaborators themselves.”

“Those who are granting the Lebanese people certificates in patriotism they should take them from those who sacrificed themselves for the sake of the country and the nation,” Sheikh Qassem said, referring to various resistance factions in Lebanon.

Sheikh Qassem’s remarks come two days after Lebanon’s top court on Friday sentenced Habib Shartouni to death for the 1982 assassination of Bashir Gemayel, who was killed less than a month after he was elected president and soon after he agreed to start discussing diplomatic ties with the Israeli enemy.

Gemayel was well known for his ties with the Israeli occupation. Before his assassination, he held several meetings with many Israeli officials and generals, including former Zionist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Friday’s ruling was slammed by many national parties across Lebanon who considered Shartouni a hero and Gemayel a traitor who attempted to sell his country. However, some parties, including Phalange party and Lebanese Forces, who were well known for committing massacres against Lebanese and Palestinians during the 15-year civil, welcomed the sentence.

Source: Al-Manar

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Bahrain tells Arab states to be nice to Israel


DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:20) – King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah has stated that he believes it is time to end the Arab boycott of Israel and to normalize ties between the zionist entity and the states in the Arab Gulf. This was reported by Israeli media.

The king of the Gulf emirate reportedly made this statement during a visit to Los Angeles, where he attended an event by the pro-zionist Simon Wiesenthal Center. During a conversation with the Center’s director Abraham Cooper, King Hamed furthermore stated that citizens of Bahrain are allowed to visit Israel as they see fit. Cooper from his side praised the King’s stance as “ahead of the pack, and smart”.

“If I had to predict, I would tell you that the Arab world’s relationship with the state of Israel is going to dramatically change,” the director added.

The meeting between the Bahraini monarch and the Simon Wiesenthal Center originally came as part of a plan to open a religious tolerance museum in the Gulf state’s capital of Manama.

The change in tone of the King of Bahrain comes after earlier reports surfaced of a rapprochement between Israel and both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Last week, it was reported that a secret meeting had taken place between representatives from the Saudi royal family and Israeli officials in Tel Aviv. And last June saw the leaking of several e-mails from the UAE’s ambassador to the US, indicating he had extensive contacts with a pro-Israeli think tank.

The move by Bahrain, while no doubt shocking to many in the Arab world, is not entirely unexpected. During last year’s Hanukkah celebrations, videos were published showing Bahraini men dancing and celebrating with Jewish guests, likely Israelis.

If Bahrain were to carry on with the plan to normalize ties with Israel, it would mean a withdrawal from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was instituted in 2005 and officially adopted by the Arab League. The BDS agreement bars any signatory states from economical relations with Israel.

The regime in Bahrain has recently grown closer to Saudi Arabia, and has joined the quartet of nations together with the Saudis, Egypt and the UAE in enforcing an economic blockade on the State of Qatar. The Wahhabi-influenced monarchy also gained international notoriety for its brutal crackdown of Shia protests in 2011-2013. Just last January, the regime executed three Shia men accused of a bomb attack on security forces, for which the evidence was reported to be highly questionable.

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