TotalEnergies, Eni transfer 30 percent stake of Lebanese economic waters to QatarEnergy

January 30 2023

(Photo Credit:AP)

Qatar now has a 30 percent stake in Lebanon’s economic zone, with TotalEnergies and Eni having a 35 percent stake each

ByNews Desk- 

On 29 January,  France-based TotalEnergies and the Italian corporation Eni transferred a 30 percent stake in Lebanon’s economic zone to Qatar’s national energy corporation for gas exploration in blocks four and nine.

This agreement entails that QatarEnergy has a 30 percent stake within these zones, while 70 percent of Lebanon’s economic zone will continue to be distributed among the two European energy corporations. Qatar’s entry into the partnership came after the withdrawal of Russian company “Novatek,” which previously owned a 20 percent share in Beirut’s economic zone.

The agreement was ratified during a ceremony attended by Lebanon’s Minister of Energy and Water, Walid Fayyad, the Qatari Minister of State for Energy Affairs and CEO of QatarEnergy, Patrick Pouyanné, and the CEO of TotalEnergies, Claudio Descalzi.

“We are very pleased to welcome QatarEnergy to our exploration acreage in Lebanon. The recent delineation of Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel has created a new momentum for the exploration of its hydrocarbon potential. Along with our partners, we are committed to drilling as soon as possible in 2023 an exploration well in Block 9, and our teams are mobilized to conduct these operations,” Pouyanné said.

Due to the global energy crisis incited by western sanctions against Russia, Qatar has to expand bilateral cooperation with nations on a regional and international scale, facilitating liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries in need.

Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Energy Minister, claimed that the dire need for LNG would persist “for some time to come,” as little new LNG would enter the market until 2025.

Earlier this month, Qatar and US-based Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC signed a multi-billion dollar deal to invest in an energy complex that would boost Doha’s status as a top petrochemical supplier in the world.

The Gulf kingdom also signed deals with China and Germany to export large quantities of LNG from the ambitious North Field East (NFE) expansion project starting in 2026.

Qatar Partners for Joint Exploration in Lebanese Gas Blocks: A Ray of Hope?

 January 29, 2023

Lebanon, Qatar Energy, Eni, TotalEnergies sign an agreement in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

Batoul Wehbe

Lebanon witnessed on Sunday the signing ceremony of ‘The Revised Appendices to the Exploration and Production Agreements for Blocks 4 and 9’, an agreement for Qatar Energy Company to join a consortium that will search for gas in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon’s coast.

As soon as the good news of the gas agreement circulated this afternoon, the exchange rate of the dollar recorded a decline on the Lebanese black market to below than 57,000 Lebanese Lira, giving hope to perpetually overwhelmed people.

The Lebanese government, together with two leading international oil companies, entered into an agreement with the state-owned Qatar Energy Company, resulting in the latter becoming a partner in the consortium exploring the oil and gas potential of Blocks 4 and 9. This marks a significant milestone in the quest for oil and gas in Lebanon’s maritime domain.

“Today marks a historic event in Lebanon as we sign the amended addendums to the exploration and production agreements in blocks 4 and 9, in the presence of the CEO of Qatar Energy Company, and with the support and attendance of the Prime Minister’s Office of Business Administration Nijib Mikati in the governmental palace,” the Ministry of Energy stated.

The Minister of Energy, Dr. Waleed Fayyad, signed on behalf of Lebanon, while the State Minister of Energy from Qatar, the CEO of Qatar Energy Company, Engineer Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, signed on behalf of Qatar, the CEO of Total Group, Patrick Pouyanné, signed on behalf of the French company, and the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, signed on behalf of the Italian company, in the presence of ambassadors from Qatar, France, and Italy.

PM Miktai, Walid Fayyad, Al-Kaabi

“This step comes after Qatar Energy Company became a partner in the consortium of petroleum companies with the rights to explore and produce in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters, as an undeveloped oil owner, joining Total E&P from France and Eni from Italy,” the Lebanese Ministry added.

The ownership share in each of the consortium’s companies will be divided among the four partners, and they will work together to explore and produce oil and gas in these two blocks as follows:

“ Total Energies: 35%
    Eni: 35%
   Qatar Energy: 30% 

This new partnership coincides with the operator’s ongoing efforts to carry out exploration and drilling activities in block 9 this year. Lebanon’s share ranges from 54% to 63% after deducting operating and capital expenses if a discovery is made.

“We are thrilled to welcome Qatar Energy to our exploration efforts in Lebanon. The recent determination of the country’s maritime boundary with Israel has generated a new opportunity for the exploration of its hydrocarbon resources. Total Energies and our partners are fully committed to drilling an exploration well in Block 9 as soon as possible in 2023, and our teams are ready to commence these operations,” stated Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of Total Energies.

This partnership further strengthens the collaboration between Total Energies and Qatar Energy in exploration activities, bringing the number of countries where the companies have partnerships to nine.

“Our concentration will be on block number nine,” al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Energy Minister, said, adding that this could be a first step for Qatar Energy to play a bigger role in future explorations.

“It is an honor to be in Lebanon with these two companies,” said Descalzi, the CEO of Italy’s state-run energy company, ENI, said in turn. “We will work all together to give the best to your country.”

During the press conference held after the signing ceremony, Lebanese Energy Minister Fayyad hailed the deal that “marks the beginning of a new chapter that reinforces Lebanon’s standing as a major player in the regional oil industry.”

“This indicates the continuation of confidence in Lebanon despite all the ordeals and crises that it is going through, and the hopes pinned on making commercial discoveries in the exclusive Lebanese economic zone,” Fayyad pointed out.

For his part, PM Mikati affirmed that the initiation of exploration and petroleum activities in Lebanon’s waters holds great potential to generate short- and medium-term benefits. “This marks the initiation of a new stage in the exploration and petroleum operations in Lebanese waters, poised to have a beneficial influence, both in the short and intermediate term, on the creation of opportunities for Lebanese companies involved in the petroleum services sector and providing employment prospects for Lebanese youth, particularly those with technical expertise,” Mikati said.

“This partnership between Qatar Energy and its acquisition of a 30% stake in exploration and production agreements for Blocks 4 and 9 is a significant and unparalleled event in the oil exploration and production sector in Lebanon’s maritime waters, given Qatar Energy’s reputation and expertise in the gas industry globally,” he noted.

The US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein, who mediated the Israeli-Lebanese maritime border negotiations, has lauded the agreement between Lebanon, Qatar Energy, TotalEnergies and ENI. In a tweet, Hochstein exclaimed, “Congratulations to Lebanon on Qatar Energy joining as an investor with ENI and TotalEnergies. This is a welcome addition of new investment in the Lebanese energy sector and further evidence of progress from the maritime agreement.”

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

The Lebanese people pin hopes on this landmark agreement that would save its economy from deteriorating to an untenable level.

The Lebanese economy is in a state of profound distress, with the Lebanese pound experiencing a severe devaluation of nearly 90% since the onset of the economic crisis in May 2019. The latest reports indicate the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound reached a record low of over 60,000 to the dollar on Friday.

In addition to this, food prices have skyrocketed nearly tenfold, leading to high levels of unemployment and putting three-quarters of the population into poverty.

The absence of a president has been a persistent issue in the country since the expiration of Michel Aoun’s presidential term on October 31st. Despite the Parliament convening on 11 occasions, efforts to elect a new president have been unsuccessful.

In the same context, MP Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, stated in a press conference that the country is facing the consequences of a breakdown, including a surging dollar, increasing poverty, sky-high gasoline prices, disarray in the pharmaceutical market, a threatened education sector, lack of administration, and employees and transactions being ignored. Additionally, he mentioned that judges are airing their grievances and acting based on political agendas.

MP Bassil urged for a unified approach and prompt discussions among all parties, either in a bilateral or collective manner, to come to an agreement on a streamlined and swift action plan. He also called for reaching consensus on a list of potential candidates for the presidential election, or if not possible, to vote based on an agreed upon list.

“We are ready to conclude a new understanding with Hezbollah and with any political component on building the state in partnership, provided it is implemented,” Bassil said.

Bou Saab in the DC

All the way to the United States, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Elias Bou Saab, has departed for Washington on an official visit. During the trip, he will engage in talks with US administration officials, members of the Senate and Congress, as well as high-level representatives of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Bou Saab will also participate in joint meetings alongside Representatives Neamat Freim, Yassin Yassin, and Mark Daou.

It is foreseen that on the first day of his visit, Bou Saab will commence with a meeting and dinner facilitated by Wael Hashem, Chargé d’Affaires at the Lebanese Embassy. The US Special Presidential Coordinator, Amos Hochstein, will also be in attendance, giving a joint speech with Bou Saab regarding the aftermath of the maritime border demarcation and its effect on Lebanon. The dinner will be attended by prominent Lebanese parliamentarians, members of the Senate and Congress, and high-level American officials.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

What prompted the urgent, secretive summit in Abu Dhabi?

January 20 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Key Arab heads of state convened this week for an emergency meeting that excluded the Saudis and Kuwaitis. The likely hot topics under discussion were Egypt’s economic collapse and Israel’s aggressive escalations.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

On 18 January, the United Arab Emirates hastily arranged a consultative summit in Abu Dhabi, which included the leaders of four member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Heads of state of the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE attended the urgent summit, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The absence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and either Kuwaiti Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad or his Crown Prince Mishaal al-Ahmad was noted with some surprise. No official statements or press leaks have yet emerged to explain the omission of the two GCC leaders or their high-level representatives from the urgent consultations.

This surprise summit came on the heels of a tripartite meeting in Cairo on 17 January, which included President Sisi, King Abdullah, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Directly afterward, the Jordanian monarch flew to Abu Dhabi carrying a message for Emirati Emir Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that prompted him to immediately convene a summit the next day.

What was so urgent to necessitate an emergency meeting of Arab leaders? Why did the top Saudi and Kuwait leaders give the  summit a miss? There are several possibilities behind this swift convening of key Arab leaders in Abu Dhabi.

First, is the rapid deterioration of Egypt’s economy after the decline of the Egyptian pound to its lowest levels in history (32 pounds to the US dollar). Spiraling inflation rates, harsh conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – most notably the floating of the national currency and a heavy reduction of private contracting and trade companies affiliated with the Egyptian army – have added sharply to the economy’s downward turn.

There are reports that the IMF has asked GCC countries to provide $40 billion in immediate aid to Egypt, otherwise the state’s collapse is imminent and inevitable.

Second, are the dangerous policies currently under consideration by the right-wing government of Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These include, most notably, threats to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the practical abolition of Jordan’s Hashemite Custodianship over Jerusalem, the illegal annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of its Palestinian residents to Jordan.

Third, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, warned his neighbors a few days ago on Twitter of an imminent US-Israeli aggression against Iran that could fundamentally shake the security and stability of the Gulf.

The risk of economic collapse facing Egypt was perhaps the most important and urgent factor on the summit agenda. Financial assistance from the Gulf – once a reliable source of emergency aid – has completely stopped. Even if it continues, funds will no longer arrive in the form of non-refundable grants and unconditional deposits, as in years past.

That approach to funding has changed as Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed bin Jadaan made clear in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 18 January. In previous statements, Egypt’s President Sisi has confirmed his country’s financial woes by revealing that Gulf states have stopped their aid completely.

The absence of the Emir of Kuwait from the consultative summit may be understandable in this context – if, in fact, Egypt’s economy was the top of the summit’s agenda. The Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) has adopted a decision to prevent his government from providing a single dollar in aid to Egypt.

Gulf states have provided Egypt with $92 billion since the ‘Arab Uprisings’ began to tear through the region in January 2011.

Currently, Kuwait’s own internal governmental crisis, in addition to the deterioration of its relationship with Cairo over its deportation of Egyptian workers, can explain the emir’s absence. What is not understood so far, is why Saudi’s MbS was a no-show in Abu Dhabi.

While Emirati leader MbZ’s warm and friendly reception of his Qatari counterpart Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani raised hopes of easing bilateral tensions, news leaks suggested that Saudi-Emirati relations are in their own state of crisis – based on growing differences over the Yemeni war and other regional issues. Perhaps this crisis is what led to a thaw in Qatari-Emirati relations.

In addition, Egyptian-Saudi relations have collapsed to an state unprecedented for years. A report last month by US media outlet Axios revealed that Egyptian authorities have halted practical procedures in their transfer of the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi sovereignty. Egyptian official media has also launched a fierce attack on the Saudi-owned “MBC Egypt” channel and its presenter Amr Adib, accusing him of working for the Saudis amid fears the station will stop broadcasting from Egypt.

Besides the economic aspects, the differences, squabbles, and fluctuating relations between the countries of this axis, there are other issues of significant gravity that may have been addressed at the Abu Dhabi summit.

A key topic may have been the ambitions of Netanyahu’s unprecedentedly right-wing Israeli government – notably its prevention of Jordan’s ambassador from visiting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a first step to abolish the Hashemite Custodianship over the ancient city.

While the failure to invite Palestinian President Abbas to the Abu Dhabi summit (there is an Emirati veto against it) may suggest otherwise, Jordan – currently under US and Israeli pressure to participate in the second Negev summit in Morocco – and its monarch may have pressed this issue in Abu Dhabi.

Gulf states that have normalized relations or opened communications with Israel would have been asked to use their influence to de-escalate these pressures. The ramifications of continued Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a direct threat to Jordan’s security and stability.

Interestingly, all the states represented at the Abu Dhabi summit – with the exception of the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar – have signed normalization agreements with Israel. The absent Saudis and Kuwaitis, have notably not yet joined that club.

Details of the Abu Dhabi emergency summit of heads of states have not yet emerged, but the days ahead could provide some answers. Will billions flow to Egypt to extract the country from its financial crisis? Or will the Arab House remain the same? We will have to wait to see.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Europe’s gas emergency: A continent hostage to seller prices

January 16 2023

Europe’s reliance on Russian gas imports has been upended by sanctions against Moscow. With few options for practical alternatives, the continent will remain energy-dependent and financially-vulnerable regardless of who it imports from.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

The 2022 outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine revealed the importance of energy security in bolstering Moscow’s geopolitical power in Europe. The continent, which imported about 46 percent of its gas needs from Russia in 2021, found itself in a vulnerable position as it sought alternative sources.https://thecradle.co/Article/Analysis/20403

This presented an opportunity for the US to replace Russia and become the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe at significantly higher prices, resulting in large profits at the expense of its European allies. According France-based data and analytics firm, Kpler, in 2022 the EU imported 140 billion cubic meters (BCM) of liquefied natural gas (LNG), an increase of 55 BCM from the previous year.

Around 57.4 BCM of this amount (41 percent) now comes from the US, an increase of 31.8 BCM, 29 BCM from Africa (20.7 percent) – mainly from Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Angola – 22.3 BCM from Russia (16 percent), 19.8 BCM from Qatar (14 percent), 4.1 BCM from Latin America (2.92 percent) – mainly from Trinidad and Tobago – and 3.37 BCM from Norway (2.4 percent).

European gas imports 2022

In 2022, France was the leading importer of LNG in Europe, accounting for 26.23 percent of total imports. Other significant importers included Spain (22.3 percent), the Netherlands (12.65 percent), Italy (11 percent), and Belgium (10.42 percent).

These countries, along with Poland (4.7 percent), Greece (2.9 percent), and Lithuania (2.31 percent), imported over 90 percent of LNG exported to Europe at prices higher than Russian pipeline gas. It is worth noting that upon arrival, LNG is converted back to its gaseous state at receiving stations in Europe before being distributed to countries without such infrastructure, such as Germany.

Graph: 2020-2022 European gas imports, by month 

Switching dependencies

Europe was able to reduce its reliance on Russian pipeline gas from 46 percent to 10 percent last year. This decrease, however, came at a high cost to the economy, as the price of gas rose to $70 per million British thermal units (Btu), up from $27 before the Ukraine war. By the end of the year, the price had fallen to $36, compared to $7.03 in the US.

This price disparity has been hard to stomach. French President Emmanuel Macron went public with his annoyance: “American gas is 3-4 times cheaper on the domestic market than the price at which they offer it to Europeans,” criticizing what he called “American double standards.”

High gas prices have made Europe an appealing destination for gas exporters from around the world, with increased interest from countries such as Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, Iran, Libya, Algeria, and those bordering the Mediterranean basin, as they either export gas, or possess gas but lack infrastructure.

To replace the cheaper Russian pipeline gas, European countries are being forced to seek out the more expensive LNG. The EU and Britain are working to increase LNG import capacity by 5.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) per day by the end of 2023, and by 34 percent, or 6.8 BCF per day, by 2024.

Can West Asia, North Africa meet Europe’s gas needs?

The West Asia and North Africa region has the potential to partially meet Europe’s gas needs due to its geographic proximity and the presence of countries with large gas reserves and export infrastructure, such as Palestine/Israel, Algeria, and Egypt. However, there are several obstacles that must be considered.

Map of natural gas pipelines to Europe

For example, Egypt’s high production costs and increasing domestic consumption limit its export capacity. Additionally, Europe would need to be willing to pay a higher price than the Asian market for Egyptian gas.

Israel, on the other hand, has seen an increase in gas exports to Europe in the first half of 2022 after the pipeline to Egypt via Jordan was restored in March, but it is unlikely to significantly increase exports in 2023 due to factors such as limited export capacity and high domestic consumption. Experts predict that Israel may export around 10 BCM of gas to Europe this year, similar to the amount exported in 2022.

Qatar is the only Persian Gulf emirate that has increased its gas exports to Europe for 2022. This is largely because Persian Gulf countries prefer to sell their gas to Asian markets, where they can garner higher profits due to lower shipping costs and longer-term contracts.

Last year, Qatar took advantage of the significant increase in gas prices to sell part of its shipments on the European spot market. According to the Qatari Minister of Energy, between 10 percent and 15 percent of Qatar’s production can be diverted to this market.

However, it may be difficult for Europe to attract Qatari gas away from the Asian market, especially as China is expected to recover its demand for gas in 2023. In a policy home-goal, western sanctions on Iran, which has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, impede the investment needed to increase Iranian production.

No real alternatives

Iran’s lack of infrastructure connecting it to Europe and high domestic consumption also affect its export capacity. According to a report by BP, Iran produced 257 BCM of gas in 2021, of which 241.1 BCM were consumed domestically.

With regards to Algeria, the main obstacle in increasing its gas exports to Europe is political tension with Morocco and Spain that led to the suspension of the Moroccan-European gas pipeline project, which can export 10.3 billion cubic meters of Algerian gas.

In the case of the UAE, despite having the seventh-largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, its production is not sufficient to meet the demands of the local market and it imports a third of its gas consumption from Qatar through an undersea pipeline. European countries are currently in talks with Abu Dhabi to accelerate work on gas projects and increase production.

As for Saudi Arabia, it consumes all of its gas production domestically and does not export any, with a total production of 117.3 BCM in 2021. There are also expectations for a significant increase in the demand for oil and coal in 2023. The World Bank reports that this is due to an increase in European countries’ reliance on these fossil fuels instead of natural gas. This increase in demand will keep oil prices high, allowing Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members to make large profits.

The dilemma of growing demand

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that global demand for natural gas will increase to 394 BCM this year, driven in part by Europe’s need to diversify its sources of gas away from Russia. And West Asia, with its significant reserves, remains a key region for Europe to tap into for this purpose.

The challenge remains in finding cost-effective ways to transport the gas from the region to Europe, which will necessitate building a pipeline connecting the Mediterranean Basin to the Old Continent.

Failure to do so will result in Europe continuing to pay a high premium for its energy security without achieving true independence. The alternative for Europe is to rely on LNG from the US. This gives Europe almost complete independence from Russian gas, but keeps it weak, obedient, and dependent on American energy supplies.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

President Assad Resisting Russian Pressure to Help Erdogan

 ARABI SOURI J

Russian President Putin continues his extensive efforts to help the Turkish madman Erdogan in ruling Turkey, economically, Russia has done its uttermost to help the Turkish economy after the US and European Union pressure on it and despite the policies of Erdogan prior to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine were very harmful to Russia itself. The latest attempt by Mr. Putin to help the Turkish madman is to pressure President Bashar Assad to meet Erdogan in a photo-op summit which Erdogan will sell to his people as a sign of resolving the Syrian refugees issue in Turkey.

Syria’s response to previous attempts to mend ties with Turkey falls very much under the principles of international law, the UN Charter, and the bases of the Adana Accords, Turkey has interfered in Syria militarily, politically, economically, and by sponsoring tens of thousands of al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, Syria has not harmed Turkey in any way possible.

After a meeting in Moscow that joined the Syrian minister of defense to his Turkish counterpart with the presence of the Russian minister of defense, Erdogan started selling his election promise that he’s on the verge of rapprochement with Syria that will see millions of refugees return to their home country.

The Turkish regime has even set dates for a meeting between the foreign ministers of Syria and Turkey which prompted the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates to visit Damascus and ask President Assad to include his country in such a meeting.

Syria’s response to further meetings with the Turkish side are varying from negative to suspicious regarding the Turkish commitments, after all, Turkey is a NATO member state and the leaders of this ‘defensive’ alliance are not known to keep their words, especially Erdogan. Russia knows that firsthand and now even more after the revelations of former German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande that they were never serious to implement the Minsk agreements regarding the Donbas and were using them only to buy time for Ukraine to build up a strong army and threaten Russia.

Erdogan has also not only failed to implement the Idlib agreements in which he promised to cease supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS and to dismantle these terrorist groups, but he also went on beefing up these terrorists with more imported terrorists, supplies of weapons, and by sending the Turkish army, NATO’s second-largest army to protect those terrorists turning posts which were supposed to serve as observation posts to see the dismantling and withdrawal of al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists into military bases to support those terrorists inside Syrian territories.

All of this has not stopped Mr. Putin from adding more pressure on President Assad to help the Turkish madman in the upcoming elections to the extent of sending his special envoy, Mr. Lavrentiev, to Damascus to try to convince President Assad.

After receiving the Russian envoy President Bashar Assad said:

“The meetings with the Turkish side must be based on prior coordination and planning between Syria and Russia in order to be fruitful, and in order to reach the tangible goals and results that Syria wants from these meetings.”

President Assad then added:

“The objectives of the meetings stem from the national constants and principles of the state and the people, which are based on ending the Turkish occupation of the Syrian lands, and stopping support for terrorism.”

Al Qaeda, ISIS (ISIL – Daesh), their affiliates, and offshoots are considered terrorist groups by Syria, and most of the world including the United Nations General Assembly, and the United Nations Security Council, however, the regime of the Turkish madman Erdogan considers these same terrorists as moderate rebels and builds its policies toward Syria over a potential essential role for these terrorists in Syria’s future political leadership!

Yet, seems that the Russian leadership, and especially President Putin sees the Turkish madman Erdogan as a winning card against NATO and a reliable person.

The failed foreign policies of the Turkish madman Erdogan have stripped him of his friends in his country and abroad, the biggest failure was in Syria when he vowed to pray in the Grand Omayyad Mosque in Damascus as a conqueror after toppling the government of Bashar Assad, it was President Assad who saved the Turkish economy under Erdogan and Gul after the European Union doors were closed in its face when the Syrian gates were opened for Turkish businesses inside Syria and through it to the Arab world.

All of Turkey’s economic gains in the past two decades are merely because of President Bashar Assad, and all of Turkey’s economic losses in the past few years are merely because the Turkish madman Erdogan failed to topple the only person who helped him and his country stand on its feet no matter how much Qatar, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, and now the combined Gulfies help Turkey. With the southern gates blocked and with millions of refugees pressuring the Turkish economy, there’s no way Erdogan can win the upcoming elections.

Erdogan’s future without the presidency is in a confined prison cell, his and his family’s corruption is beyond comprehension, even his own partners in the Turkish mafia went against him, by winning the elections, the Turkish dictator can immune himself from the prosecution he’s promised by the Turkish opposition, and can solidify more powers under him to rule without opposition, anyway, most of the Turkish opposition are either in jail or in exile.

Sedat Peker, The Mafia and Erdogan… And Syria, Again
Sedat Peker the mafia boss in series of YouTube videos exposes Erdogan’s links to drugs, terrorist groups, money laundering, and Israel.
Syria News

An adviser of the Turkish madman Erdogan exposed his boss’s real intentions toward Syria: Erdogan will not implement any agreement he strikes with President Assad before the Turkish elections, and will allow 1.5 million to 2 million Syrian refugees to return to their home country only if Aleppo is placed under the administrative control of Turkey!

Will the Russian leadership of Mr. Putin continue to pressure Syria into helping Erdogan win re-election coming this mid-May, or understand that the likes of the Turkish madman Erdogan cannot be trusted no matter what other concessions the Russians are able to get out of him?

It was the war criminal and former US President George W. Bush who tasked the Turkish madman Erdogan with a leading role in the region if he helps the USA implement its PNAC (Project for the New American Century) by dismantling all secular Arab countries especially Syria to protect the creation of the Jewish state of Greater Israel aka Greater Middle East Project, known in biblical terms as the kingdom of the antichrist; the Turkish madman Erdogan will become the neo-Ottoman sultan of the divided Muslim world in exchange. The whole world changed after the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood project of Erdogan failed miserably in Syria which caused a reverse domino effect in the Arab states in which it succeeded earlier: Tunisia, Sudan, Libya, Morocco, and Egypt.

The Turkish madman Erdogan started the war on Syria turning his country into the main hub for all sorts of terrorists hired by the different ‘intelligence’ agencies of NATO and Gulfies to fight the Syrian state, and it’s in the hands of the Turkish madman to end the war on Syria and secure re-election, Russia must not ask of Syria to help Erdogan, it must pressure Erdogan to at least comply with the agreements the latter signed of which Russia and Iran were the guarantors.


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الكُرة الآن في الملعب السعودي؛ إذ تعتقد صنعاء أن بن سلمان، يمتلك الإجابة عن الكثير من التساؤلات (أ ف

حمزة الخنسا  

لا تزال الأوضاع في اليمن تُراوح في خانة اللاسلم واللاحرب، وهي الحالة التي أعلنت صنعاء أخيراً، وبشكل واضح ومكرَّر، عدم قبولها بأن تصبح أمراً واقعاً، متعهّدةً بوضع حدّ سريع لها، من شأنه أن يَحسم وجهة الأمور: إمّا إلى السلام الذي يلبّي شروطها، أو الحرب التي تُمكّنها من فرْض هذه الشروط. وفي ظلّ تلك المراوحة، تصاعدت نبرة «أنصار الله» المهدِّدة بإعادة إشعال الجبهات، وجاء تصريح رئيس «المجلس السياسي الأعلى»، مهدي المشاط، الذي قال من جبهة البرح في تعز: «نحن ننتظر عودة الحرب في أيّ وقت، وجاهزون لها»، كذروة الرسائل المندرجة في هذا السياق. وبالتوازي، لم تتوقّف سلطنة عُمان عن بذل الجهود في سبيل إيجاد حلّ يرضي جميع الأطراف.

وفيما لا يزال «الستاتيكو» يَحكم المشهد، حيث يسير خيارا التصعيد العسكري والتسوية السلمية بوتيرة متشابهة من السرعة وتشكُّل الظروف المناسبة لكلَيهما، تحرص قيادة «أنصار الله» على التأكيد أنها لن تَقبل بالمزيد من المرواغة وكسْب الوقت «على حساب حقوق الشعب اليمني ومعاناته». ولكي لا يتحوّل التهديد باستئناف القتال إلى «لازمة» متكرّرة من دون تطبيق عملي، بما يساعد واشنطن والرياض على ترتيب استنتاجات من قَبيل أن صنعاء غير قادرة على تنفيذ ما تتوعّد به، أتت رسائل قائد الحركة، السيّد عبد الملك الحوثي، خلال لقائه الوفد العُماني الذي زار صنعاء أخيراً، حاسمة وواضحة حيث قال لضيوفه: «لن يجوع الشعب اليمني بعد الآن»، مؤكداً«أننا سنستخدم كلّ ما لدينا من إمكانات لرفع الحصار عن الشعب اليمني، والاستفادة من موارده وثرواته».

وفي هذا الإطار، تقول مصادر معنيّة في صنعاء، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، إنه بالتوازي مع رسائل الحوثي الواضحة المَرامي، أُعطيت القوى العسكرية المعنيّة الإشارة للجهوزية الكاملة، كاشفةً أن «بعض التحرّكات في سياق هذه الجهوزية، تمّ إظهارها عمداً حتى تُرصد من قِبَل العدو، ويَعرف الأخير أننا جدّيون، وأننا لا نطلق تهديدات جوفاء». وتؤكّد المصادر ذاتها أنه في هذه المرّة، إنْ لم تكن هناك استجابة مُرضية لـ«المطالب الإنسانية»، واتّجهت الأمور بنتيجة ذلك صوْب التصعيد، فإن المعركة ستكون نوعية وستشمل كلّ الساحات، بما فيها البحر الأحمر، وباب المندب، و«أرامكو» في العمق السعودي، فضلاً عن العمق الإماراتي. وبما أن الوقت بدأ ينفد، في ظلّ تأكيد «أنصار الله» أنها لن تنتظر الحلّ إلى ما لا نهاية، فقد سُجّلت أربع خطوات يمكن وضعها في إطار «الاستعدادات الأخيرة» قبل الضغط على الزناد، وهي:

– إتمام الجهوزية العسكرية اللازمة.
– الموقف السياسي الحاسم الذي أعلنته القيادة السياسية لـ«أنصار الله».
– زيارات القائد الأعلى للقوات المسلحة، رئيس «المجلس السياسي الأعلى» مهدي المشاط، إلى الجبهات العسكرية.
– الخروج الجماهيري الكبير في العاصمة صنعاء والمحافظات، المنتظَر اليوم الجمعة، في مسيرات أُطلق عليها شعار «الحصار حرب»، ما يعني إضفاء الشرعية الشعبية على أيّ تصعيد في المستقبل.

الكُرة الآن في الملعب السعودي؛ إذ تعتقد صنعاء أن ولي العهد، محمد بن سلمان، يمتلك الإجابة عن الكثير من التساؤلات. فالمملكة اليوم، وبعد نجاح جارتها الصغرى قطر في تنظيم «المونديال»، والذي ينضمّ إلى النموذج «الناجح» والمُنافس الذي تقدّمه جارتها الأخرى، وشريكتها في العدوان، الإمارات، على مستوى الاقتصاد والتجارة العالمية، تَعزّزت قناعتها بأن «حربها» هي «حرب موارد واقتصاد». وهو ما كان جلّاه مثلاً حديث وزير الطاقة، عبد العزيز بن سلمان، في تشرين الأوّل الماضي، على هامش إحدى فعاليات «الاستراتيجية الوطنية للصناعة» التي أطلقها ابن سلمان، عن «حسرة كبرى»، قائلاً: «لقد أضعنا 40 سنة كان باستطاعتنا أن نكون خلالها مثل الهند والصين في مجال الصناعة، ولكنّنا قرّرنا ألّا نُضيّع وقتاً آخر». على أن «يمن ما بعد العدوان» يقف عقبة كبيرة أمام تطوّر مشروع ابن سلمان لتحويل السعودية إلى مركز تجارة عالمي، فضلاً عن أن القيادات السعودية بأجمعها توصّلت إلى قناعة مفادها بأنه لم يَعُد بإمكانها تطويع اليمن، مُسلّمةً بأن هذا البلد أصبح خارج فلكها، خصوصاً في ظلّ خريطة القوى التي أنتجتها ثماني سنوات من الحرب.

وظهرت معالم تلك القناعة بوضوح أخيراً في المفاوضات الجارية بشأن تمديد الهدنة؛ إذ بحسب المصادر ذاتها، رفعت صنعاء أربعة عناوين أساسية في وجه الرياض، التي أعلنت الموافقة المبدئية عليها، على أن تخضع للتفاوض التفصيلي، وهي: رفع الحصار، وعدم التدخّل في الشؤون الداخلية اليمنية، ودفع التعويضات، والخروج من اليمن. وفي المقابل، طالبت السعودية بـ«ضمانات» بأن لا يشكّل اليمن تهديداً للسعودية وأمنها. وتَكشف المصادر أن المملكة طرحت مسألة الضمانات أمام إيران وسلطنة عُمان أيضاً، مشيرةً إلى أن «أنصار الله» أبدت الاستعداد لـ«تبديد مخاوف الرياض الأمنية إذا كان ذلك يساعدها في التوصّل إلى قرار حاسم بالالتزام بما يُتوصَّل إليه في المفاوضات حيال الحلّ الشامل والنهائي للملفّ اليمني».

يسير خيارا التصعيد العسكري والتسوية السلمية بوتيرة متشابهة من السرعة

على أنه هنا، يصبح العامل الأميركي أكثر تأثيراً على السعودية، حيث تسعى إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن بكلّ قوتها إلى إبقاء حالة اللاحرب واللاسلم هي السائدة، كونها مستفيدة من هذا الوضع أولاً، وراغبةً ثانياً في أن يبقى اليمن ورقة ابتزاز في التوتّر بينها وبين ابن سلمان. وعليه، سيكون على وليّ العهد إيجاد الحلول المناسبة لمشكلته مع إدارة بايدن، ومن ثمّ تأمين الظرف الأمثل لنجاح مخطّطاته الخاصة بمستقبل المملكة. وفي انتظار ذلك، تشي المعلومات الأخيرة الواردة من صنعاء بأن الأمور الآن قد وصلت إلى المراحل الأخيرة من التفاوض، حيث لا تفتأ الرياض تبعث بإشارات إيجابية حيال التزامها بتنفيذ الاتفاقات، خصوصاً ما يتعلّق منها بملفّ التعويضات، ولهذه الغاية منعت حكومة عدن من القيام بإجراءات اقتصادية في إطار اعتبار «أنصار الله» حركة إرهابية. وفي المقابل، تتواصل على الأرض، جنوباً وشرقاً، تحرّكات القوى والفصائل الموالية للسعودية، وتلك المدعومة من الإمارات، والتي انضمّت إليها أخيراً الجماعات المموَّلة من قطر، لتثبيت مواقعها وتقوية أوراقها وخلْق واقع جديد قد يُستفاد منه في حال وقْف الحرب أو استئنافها.

من ملف : ابن سلمان لـ«أنصار الله»: خذوا اليمن وأعطونا ضمانات أمنية

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KSA sentences uni prof. to 30 years in prison over tweets

December 28, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Saudi Arabia sentences a university professor to 30 years in prison for tweets about the kingdom, its propaganda policies, and the security situation.

Muhammad Bin Muhsin Basurrah

Saudi journalist Turki Al-Shalhoub, who previously triggered a public outcry for exposing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s contentious plans against highly revered sites in Saudi Arabia, tweeted on Tuesday that the State Security Court had passed the ruling regarding the professor at the media faculty of Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, Muhammad bin Mohsin Basurrah.

Al-Shalhoub cited several connected Tweets by Basurrah and said he had commented on the disinformation campaign of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV, Saudi Arabia’s 3-year diplomatic dispute with Qatar and other Arab countries, in addition to the security situation in the country.

“Saudi security forces only intervene when the sovereignty of the House of Saud is threatened; otherwise they would not take any serious actions,” the journalist commented.

Last month, the independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, Prisoners of Conscience, reported that state officials had jailed pro-democracy campaigner Fadi Ibrahim Nasser over tweets that denounced the government and the policies of the Saudi regime.

A Saudi opposition activist, Abdul Hakim bin Abdul Aziz, revealed that the Saudi authorities had arrested his son, Yasser, from his university, as part of the Kingdom’s aggressive crackdown against activists that criticize the performance of the ruling regime on social media.

Bin Abdul Aziz considered that the arrest of his son exposes “the oppression and tyranny of the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia and is a desperate attempt to force me to remain silent about the violations that the country is witnessing.”

It is noteworthy that bin Abdul Aziz is one of the founders of the “Zawina” organization, which is concerned with supporting the families of prisoners of conscience and exposing human rights violations against detainees and their families.

Saudi authorities sentenced 15 prisoners of conscience to death in November

At the beginning of last month, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights revealed that the Saudi authorities had sentenced 15 prisoners of conscience to death, bringing the number of people at risk of death to 53, including at least eight minors.

In the same context, the Saudi Court of Appeal extended in October the sentence of Tunisian national Mahdia Al-Marzouki, from two years and eight months to 15 years, on charges of interacting with a tweet.

Similarly, the Saudi authorities sentenced an American citizen to 16 years in prison for criticizing the Saudi regime in a tweet.

Hundreds of bloggers, activists, intellectuals, and others have been arrested in Saudi Arabia ever since bin Salman became crown prince in 2017, an obvious sign of zero tolerance for dissent even against the international condemnation of repressive measures.

Over the past years, the country also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to persecute peaceful activists, repressing freedom of expression.

أقلّيات تتصارع كأنّها أغلبيات

 الثلاثاء 20 كانون الأول 2022

ابراهيم الأمين

ها هي السنة تمرّ، من دون أن يكون أحد قادراً على توقّع ما قد يحصل مطلع السنة المقبلة، لا خلالها. وليست هذه المرة الأولى لا يكون فيها اللبنانيون متحكّمين بمصيرهم، لكنها المرة الألف التي يختلفون فيها على كل شيء تقريباً، مهما أكثروا من عبارات التوافق والعيش المشترك والبلد الموحد والوطن النهائي وخلافه. عند اللبنانيين، جميعاً، حيلة يخرجونها من جيوبهم كلما استدعت الحاجة: قصائد سعيد عقل عن الوطن المجد وأغاني الأخوين الرحباني عن الضيعة والحب الذي يحسدنا عليه بقية سكان الأرض. ما من جهة أو حزب أو قوة أو مرجعية أو مسؤول أو فنان إلا ويغنّي لهذا البلد الأعجوبة. لكن هؤلاء، عندما يعودون الى غرفهم المغلقة، يبدأون بالصراخ والشتائم وتحميل «الآخر» مسؤولية الخراب والضياع. كما هي حال الرغبة الجماعية بمحاربة الفساد، والتي تصطدم أحياناً بالمفارقة اللبنانية العجيبة – الغريبة، كأن يقول لك صاحب مصلحة إنه ما كان يجب «تكبير» القصة في النافعة، أو إن هناك «مبالغة» في الحديث عما يجري في الدوائر العقارية، لتكتشف أن «اللبناني الشطور» يريد تيسير أموره، وهو أصلاً يعدّ الرشوة جزءاً من الضريبة التي سيدفعها لتسيير أموره، سواء كان ذلك عبر القانون أو خلافاً له.

لكن الأمر يصبح أكثر مأسويةً عندما يحلو لسياسيين وإعلاميين أن يعتبروا الحملة على الفساد في المؤسسات علاجاً شافياً، بينما يصبح حراماً أو إمعاناً في الخراب إن أتى أحد على سيرة الفساد الأكبر في التخطيط والتشريع والرقابة والقضاء وإدارة المال العام. هكذا، يجري تحويل السؤال عن الفساد الى قصة موظف قبض مبلغاً من المال مقابل تسهيل معاملة خلافاً للقانون، لا إلى سؤال حول الملفات التي يجري تمريرها بواسطة هؤلاء الموظفين الذين اختيروا لهذه المهمة عن سابق تصور وتصميم.

اليوم، لا أفق واضحاً لاتفاق على رئيس جديد للجمهورية. والانقسام هنا ليس سياسياً فقط، بل هو طائفي ومذهبي وولائي أيضاً. وهو ضمناً يخفي خلافاً حول المصالح الاقتصادية للطوائف اللبنانية وأزلامها في الإدارة العامة أو القطاع الخاص. وهذا الأفق المسدود يترافق مع كتم للنقاش حول برنامج الرئيس المقبل، وخلافاً للعناوين الفضفاضة حول السيادة والإصلاح، فإنّ أحداً لا يناقش ما يريد القيام به. وكيف يحصل الأمر إذا كان المرشحون الذين يجرون الاتصالات ويناقشون الصفقات مع الخارج والداخل يرفضون إعلان ترشحهم، ويرفضون الحديث مع الناس عما يقدرون على القيام به، ويتّكلون على أن الحسابات التي تعتمد لانتخاب الرئيس لا علاقة لها بكل هذا.

وعندما يكون الأمر على هذا النحو، ينتفي فوراً النقاش حول الحكومة المقبلة المفترض أن تدير البلاد مع الرئيس الجديد. وبالتالي يصبح النقاش حول اسم رئيسها وهويته، ويقتصر الحديث هنا على المعادلات نفسها التي تحكم آلية اختيار الرئيس الأول للبلاد. بينما، لا يريد أحد من المرشحين أو الناخبين جرّ المسؤولين الأساسيين الى النقاش الحقيقي حول ما يجب القيام به، وحول المهام المفترض أن يقوم بها الحكم القادم، برئيس الجمهورية ورئيس الحكومة والوزراء والإدارة العامة أيضاً.

اليوم، ليس بإمكان أحد في لبنان أن يدّعي أنه يمكن اختيار رئيس جديد وحكومة جديدة من دون الحصول على موافقة الخارج وغطائه. والخارج، هنا، لا هوية محددة له، لأن عناوينه كثيرة. لكن الحق المعطى للخارج في أن يحسم النقاش، مردّه أن اللبنانيين يعرفون أنهم ليسوا مستقلّين، لا سياسياً ولا اقتصادياً ولا ثقافياً عن الخارج، وأن العلاقة بينهم وبين الخارج ليست تفاعلية كما هي حال كثير من دول العالم، بل هي علاقة تبعية، تسمح لهذا الخارج بأن يأتي الى لبنان رافعاً صوته وطارحاً ما يعتقد أنه الأنسب لنا. وإذا كانت فرنسا تمثل الطرف الأكثر فظاظة في الأمر، فهي لا تنطق بغير الهوى الأميركي، وكل ما ترجوه فرنسا أن يكون لها دور في المرحلة اللاحقة، كما هي حال قطر وآخرين، بينما يعرف جميع اللاعبين في لبنان أن الولايات المتحدة والسعودية هما اللتان تحسمان الأمر. حتى ولو قامتا بالأمر ربطاً بالحسابات التي ترتبط بما تجريانه من مفاوضات مع إيران وسوريا ودول أخرى لها تأثيرها الكبير في لبنان.

البحث سراً عن رئيس جديد وحكومة جديدة سببه الهروب من السؤال عن برنامج العمل والآليات


ولكن، لنضع جانباً الخلافات المحلية والخارجية حول الرئاستين الأولى والثالثة، ولنكن أكثر صراحة في ما خصّ حجم التشظّي الذي يصيب المجتمع اللبناني. وسواء أعجبنا الأمر أو لا، أو تفهّمنا أسبابه أو رفضناها، فإن الحقيقة القاسية تكمن اليوم في تشكل مزاج عام، عند المسيحيين أكثر من المسلمين، عنوانه العودة الى نظرية الشك في القدرة على التعايش مع الآخر. وهو مزاج لم يعد يقتصر على قوة أو جهة أو مجموعة، بل يمكن ملاحظته في السياسة والأمن والاجتماع والاقتصاد والثقافة والحياة اليومية. ومع أن الوقائع الصلبة تشير بقوة الى صعوبة انفصال مجموعة لبنانية عن بقية أهل البلاد، إلا أن المهم التفكّر في الأمر، وهو تفكر يجب أن يحصل بهدوء، حتى ولو كانت خلاصته الذهاب نحو عقد جديد يجمع بين أبناء هذا البلد.

ومرة جديدة، حتى لا نكون أسرى فكرة واحدة تقول إن النظام لا يمكن أن يتشكل خارج إطار التنافس الطائفي، فإنّ الحقائق تشير الى أن لبنان صار بلد الأقليات، وليس فيه أيٌّ منها متماسكة أكثر على الإطلاق. حتى الأقليات القوية ليست في موقع القادر على فرض الأمر بالقوة. وهذا ما يحيلنا مرة جديدة الى عنوان جدي، حتى ولو لم تتوفر كامل عناصر نجاحه بعد، وهو البحث عن دولة مدنية تحمي الأقليات من خلال قوانين وأنظمة تحاكي كل مجموعة باعتبارها جزءاً من كل. وعدا ذلك، سنعود الى نظام طائفي مقيت، سرعان ما سينفجر حروباً متنوعة، باردة كانت أو ساخنة!

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Erdogan Jails His Main Rival in the 2023 Election

 

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces a tough re-election vote in six months.  His rival, the Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu, is very popular and far ahead in the polls.

Erdogan went back in time to find an obscure statement made by Imamoglu in 2019 which Erdogan used to order the Turkish courts to try Imamoglu on the charge of ‘insulting electoral officials’.

On December 14, Imamoglu was sentenced to 2 years, 7 months, and 15 days of prison, and was banned from politics.

Following his sentence, Imamoglu told his supporters, “Because this case is not a case against me. Because this case is not a party case. This case is a country case. This case is a justice case. This case is an equality case. Because we see this case as the case of leaving a strong and democratic Turkey to our children. Believe me, 2023 will be very beautiful.”

The US reaction to Erdogan’s move to rig the election

On December 15, Ned Price, US State Department Spokesperson said, “The United States is deeply troubled and disappointed by a Turkish court’s verdict against Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, sentencing him to two years and seven months in prison and banning him from political activity.  His conviction is inconsistent with respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.  We remain gravely concerned by the continued judicial harassment of civil society, media, and political and business leaders in Turkey, including through prolonged pretrial detention, overly broad claims of support for terrorism, and criminal insult cases.

We urge the government to cease prosecutions under criminal “insult” laws, and to respect the rights and freedoms of all Turkish citizens, including by ensuring an open environment for public debate.”

The Erdogan-Biden relationship has been weak despite Turkey being an ally, a fellow NATO member, and hosting a US airbase in Incirlik.  Turkey and the US are on opposite sides in northeast Syria, and Turkey is expected to increase their attacks on the US military’s partner there, the Kurdish SDF.

Erdogan’s policies have failed

Erdogan’s polling is so low for many reasons.  From 2011 he supported the US-NATO war on Syria for regime change. The Obama plan failed, and Turkey suffered from the effects of the support for the failed US-sponsored project.

His ruling AKP party aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood united Turkey with Qatar but broke its relationship with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. He began an Islamist transformation from a secular democracy.

International terrorists were hosted by Erdogan as they transited through airports and set up headquarters in camps on the Syrian border.

In response to the terrorists battling the Syrian government, Syrian refugees who aligned themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood flooded Turkey in the millions as they sought protection under Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood-aligned party, AKP.  After 12 years of 3 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, Turkish citizens have grown to hate and resent the refugees for racial, and economic reasons.

Turkey lost its biggest export market in 2012. Turkish exports to Syria represented 50% of all global Turkish exports, but in 2012 the Syrian government banned imports from Turkey because they participated in the US-NATO attack for regime change.

This huge loss to the Turkish economy began a downturn that saw the currency devalued and hyperinflation. Turkish citizens are suffering the loss of a prosperous lifestyle robbed of them by Erdogan’s failed foreign policy.

Erdogan and his close relatives have prospered as war profiteers; making money off of stolen oil, factories, and wheat, and transporting them to Turkey for resale.  Erdogan and his son sold stolen Syrian oil to the EU for $17 per barrel and sold stolen Syrian wheat to France for its croissants and Italy for its pasta.

Erdogan is low in the polls and is afraid of losing the election

Erdogan finished with the constitutional three-term limit in 2015, so he changed the constitution to allow himself more time to reign.

Cemil Cicek is a former parliamentary speaker from Erdogan’s ruling AKP, who also has served as deputy prime minister and justice minister, and is now a member of the Turkish Presidency’s High Advisory Board.

“If you decide on a one-sentence defamation claim after such a long time, and at such a critical threshold, neither the legality nor the accuracy of your decision will be convincing,” said Cicek of the Imamoglu sentence, and added “I don’t believe that it is credible either. This both harms the judiciary and a lofty concept such as justice. It will do a lot of damage to the country as well.”

Bulent Arinc, former parliamentary speaker and one of the founding members of the AKP also slammed the court’s decision on Imamoglu. “The court’s verdict is a shame and a despair for the Turkish judiciary,” Arinc said.

The Mayor of Istanbul

Ekrem Imamoglu is a Turkish businessman, building contractor, and center-left politician. First elected as Mayor of Istanbul with 4.1 million votes and won with a margin of 13,000 votes against his AKP opponent in the March 2019 mayoral election as the joint Nation Alliance candidate, but served only from April 17, 2019, until May 6, 2019, when the election was annulled on orders of Erdogan. Imamoglu was then reelected in a renewed election on June 23, 2019, by an even larger margin of 800,000 votes.

Condemning the decision in 2019, Imamoglu said “Those who canceled the election are fools.”

The opposition to Erdogan

Turkey’s six opposition parties including the CHP have formed the Nation Alliance to unite their strength against the ruling bloc AKP (Justice and Development Party) and its supporter MHP (Nationalist Movement Party). The opposition candidate for president will be determined by the leaders of six opposition parties, who are: CHP Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu, IYI Party Chairman Akşener, Future Party Chairman Davutoğlu, Democrat Party Chairman Uysal, DEVA Party Chairman Babacan, and IMM President Ekrem Imamoglu.

The opposition parties are united in their goal to defeat Erdogan

200 thousand Turkish citizens gathered in Sarachane in support of Imamoglu and protested his prison sentence. The setting of the rally was the site of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan’s government.

The leaders of the six opposition parties gave speeches to the crowd and stressed justice and the ultimate victory awaiting the nation.

IBB President Ekrem Imamoglu spoke to the crowd, “I will tell you: The people who run this country are sick, very sick. These are people who are allergic to the will of the nation.”

Referring to Erdogan and his nepotism and cronyism, “You manage some interest groups, elected associations, close family foundations, and some dark circles. They have established an order of waste in Istanbul and they want it to last forever. This was an order that enriched the wealth of a handful of people and hurt the people of Istanbul,” said Imamoglu.

“If 16 million Istanbulites are not equal in your eyes; If you do not see our 85 million citizens of the Republic of Turkey,” he said and added, “You showed your day to those who want to set a barrier to your will three and a half years ago and twice. You will show it again; I have no doubt. Never lose your hope.”

CHP Chairman Kilicdaroglu said “In Turkey today, no one feels safe. The rule of law is not the rule of the superiors. No one speaks to the one who has an uncle. But when a teenager tweets, there is a knock on his door early in the morning and he is taken into custody. We will finish this scene. Don’t worry. You will never, ever experience these sights again.”

Kilicdaroglu added, “This is not a 100m run. It’s a marathon, and we’ve come to the end of the marathon. After six months you will see a new Turkey. You will see a beautiful Turkey. You will see an embracing Turkey. You will see a fertile Turkey.”

IYI Party Chairman Aksener said forcefully, “Democracy is ours. The ballot box is ours.”

DEVA Party Babacan said, referring to the long reign of Erdogan, “The 3-term rule, these three terms expired in 2015.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 85 million is bigger than one. Turkey is bigger than one.”

Uysal, Chairman of the Democratic Party said, “May 6, 2019, is the date of a major break for Turkish democracy. It is the date when the main pillar of our democracy collapsed.”

The Chairman of the Future Party, Davutoğlu said “Yesterday, the judiciary became politicized. But our issue is above politics. We are here as six general presidents. We are in different political parties. But we all say ‘Honor’ with the same loud voice. We call it ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’. We call it the ‘democratic state of law’.

I say on behalf of 85 million democracy lovers: We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we will not be afraid. We did not bow to you, we do not bow, we will not bow. We will protect everyone’s rights, law, and justice, regardless of their political views.”


Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

At the World Cup, The Arab World Rallies to Palestinian Cause

December 7, 2022 

By Ishaan Tharoor | The Washington Post

In the aftermath of Morocco’s sensational victory over Spain, the triumphant Moroccan squad posed for a picture with a flag. It wasn’t their own green star-on-crimson banner, nor the flag of Algeria, Tunisia or Lebanon, all of which flapped in the stands in a reflection of the Pan-Arab solidarity that has coursed through the first World Cup in the Middle East. Instead, the Moroccans waved the flag of Palestine, an explicit echo of support for a cause that has suffused the whole tournament. At the match on Tuesday evening, Palestinian emblems were everywhere, draped across people’s shoulders, on scarves, on T-shirts.

Outside the stadium beforehand, I met Mona Allaoui, a resident of Rabat, the Moroccan capital, who wore a Palestinian kaffiyeh over her Moroccan national team shirt. “I don’t care about politics,” she said, by which she meant the political normalization agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, signed between her nation’s leaders and ‘Israel’ in 2020. “I support the Palestinians because I’m a human being and they are our brothers and sisters.”

At a tournament bombarded from all fronts by political concerns, the cause of Palestine is a kind of leitmotif… The Palestinian flag has been ubiquitous at the World Cup’s stadiums, no matter which teams are playing. Banners calling for a “Free Palestine” were raised in the stands of at least one game, while a protester at a match involving Tunisia invaded the pitch waving a Palestinian flag. During games, fans from Arab nations have chanted for Palestinian rights and against recent killings of Palestinians by ‘Israeli’ forces. They did so again Tuesday.

Interactions between ‘Israeli’ journalists — invited to Qatar for the World Cup despite the absence of formal relations between both sides — and various fans they came across in Doha, Qatar, underscored the prevalence of the issue. Videos that proliferated on social media showed bemused or startled ‘Israeli’ reporters being berated by passersby. In one encounter with Moroccan fans who walk away shouting “Palestine,” Raz Shechnik of ‘Israel’s’ Yediot Aharonot beseeched them: “But you signed ‘peace’!”

The Abraham Accords, forged by the Trump administration, paved the way for the normalization of ties between ‘Israel’ and four Arab states — the three monarchies of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, as well as Sudan. It was hailed as a major regional breakthrough and a mark of a shifting political order in the Middle East, with certain Arab powers losing interest in the entrenched struggle over Palestinian dispossession and more animated by other priorities. This week, ‘Israeli’ President Isaac Herzog called on the royals of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in what were billed as ‘landmark visits.’

The World Cup, though, has showed how small the vision of that supposed ‘peace’ is. In recent months, there has been plenty of chatter in Washington about how ‘Israeli’ officials and business executives have become a common sight in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and even in Riyadh [the Saudis have yet to normalize relations with ‘Israel,’ though there’s a depth of connections]. But what goes often unsaid in the US and ‘Israeli’ conversation about these normalization deals is the extent to which they only reflect top-level elite interests in the region.

‘Israelis’ in Qatar reckoned with that reality. “There are a lot of attempts by many people here, from all around the Arab world, to come out against us because we represent normalization,” Ohad Hemo, a reporter for ‘Israel’s’ Channel 12, told his network. “‘Israelis’’ wish came true, we signed ‘peace’ agreements with four Arab states, but there are also the people, and many of them don’t like our presence here.”

Some ‘Israeli’ commentators saw the backlash as evidence of enduring anti-‘Israeli’ sentiment in the region. “This isn’t a knock on the Abraham Accords, or even on ‘peace’ with Jordan and Egypt,” wrote Lahav Harkov of the Jerusalem Post. “They are all significant and all brought positive results for ‘Israel’ and for those countries. But it’s also a wake-up call about the limitations of those agreements.”

Recent polling shows that overwhelming majorities of ordinary citizens in many Arab countries, including those that participated in the Abraham Accords, disapprove of formalizing ties with ‘Israel.’ “There is clearly not much love in the Arab world for ‘Israel,’” wrote Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Gulf State Analytics, a Washington-based risk consultancy that focuses on the region. “The decades of humiliation, resentment, and anger which many Arabs feel toward ‘Israel’ cannot simply vanish with the signing of such normalization agreements.”

Still key for millions of people in the Arab world, their governments aside, is the political condition of Palestinians, millions of whom live lives circumscribed by ‘Israel’s’ security interests, shorn of the same rights afforded to the ‘Israelis’ around them. For years, most Arab governments conditioned normalization with ‘Israel’ on the advent of a separate Palestinian state. But the process to create that state has effectively collapsed, while ‘Israel’s’ new far-right government contains numerous politicians who oppose any scenarios in which Palestinian statehood could ever be viable.

“Ordinary Arabs are against this occupation and see it as inhuman and unacceptable,” said Mahjoob Zweiri, a professor of history and contemporary politics at Qatar University.

Zweiri said the political tenor of the tournament in Qatar has offered a clear message not just to the United States and ‘Israel,’ but to Arab governments that also seem intent on obscuring the political priorities of Palestinians. The presence of Palestinian flags at stadiums was “not organized by states, but something genuine from within the people themselves,” he said. “The World Cup is about ordinary people, it’s about middle-class people. It’s not about the elite.”

“They can talk about normalization about 100 years, but they cannot impose it,” Zweiri said.

That’s a view recognized by some in ‘Israel.’ “After the Abraham Accords were signed with several Arab countries in 2020, rightist pundits claimed that the Palestinians’ fate no longer interests other Arabs,” wrote Uzi Baram in left-leaning ‘Israeli’ newspaper Haaretz. “They didn’t bother to read the article in the agreement stating that their fulfillment requires establishing a Palestinian state. As for the symbiosis between the Palestinians and other Arab nations, no further proof seems needed following the World Cup in Qatar.”

Aladdin Awwad, 42, a Palestinian cybersecurity specialist who works in Doha, was at Morocco’s victory over Spain. His brother had draped a Palestinian flag over the Morocco jersey he was wearing.

“It’s great to see all these Arab nationalities support our cause and show the West that Palestine will not die,” Awwad told me. “We are not here to create problems. We are not against peace. But we exist and we are here.”

Israelis Are Not Welcome in Qatar During the 2022 World Cup

November 30, 2022

Source

Steven Sahiounie

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been the first of its kind and may be a breakthrough in calling out Israel and its apartheid regime, Steven Sahiounie writes.

Israeli citizens and journalists are allowed in Qatar in a FIFA agreement during the 2022 World Cup now underway in Doha. Being allowed to enter a country to watch football, or to cover an event as a journalist or media crew, is far different than being welcome.

Israeli journalists have reported numerous interactions with football fans and locals in Qatar that let them know they are not welcome because they are from Israel.

Moav Vardi, Israeli channel KAN 11, was told by a football fan on live TV from Doha, “It is Palestine, there is no Israel. Go, please. You are not welcome here. This is Qatar, this is our country – you are not welcome here. There is only Palestine. There is no Israel.”

Eli Ohana, also from KAN, got a ride in a golf cart with a Qatari policeman. During the conversation, Ohana revealed he was from Israel. The Qatari was shocked and thought he must be joking. Ohana quickly denied his citizenship and instead passed himself off as Portuguese. The policeman replied, “If you were really from Israel, I would have dropped you here and turned back.”

Raz Shechnik, a Yedioth Ahronoth reporter, said “We feel hated. We feel the hostility and we feel unwelcome,” and he recalled a seemingly friendly Qatari who offered, “I would like to say welcome to you. But you are really not blessed. Fly away from here as fast as possible.”

Even an Egyptian fan badgered Shechnik after recognizing him as Israeli after falsely claiming he was from Ecuador. Regardless of the three-decade peace treaty between the two countries, the Egyptian continued to insist, on “Free Palestine.”

Ohad Hamo, Israeli channel 12, was conducting live interviews of fans in Doha but was refused by all Arab fans. After being frustrated, he said, “I don’t know why?”

If an Israeli does not know why Arab fans would be hostile and unwelcoming of an Israeli in Qatar, then that demonstrates the lack of understanding and responsibility of keeping five million persons in an open-air prison.

President Trump successfully promoted the Abraham Accords in 2020 which saw normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Ohana said recently in Doha, “Israel has signed normalization agreements with 4 Arab countries in recent years, but it turned out that the majority of Arab peoples do not like the fact that we are here.”

Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel three decades ago, and it has been a successful and enduring example of peace between Arabs and Muslims with the Jewish State of Israel.

Peace treaties and normalization agreements are performed by governments, and not the citizens. Egyptian and Jordanian citizens have gotten used to the shared embassies, business dealings, and tourism. However, most citizens hold the opinion that Israel is a brutal occupier in Palestine and that Palestinians are living under an apartheid regime without basic human rights.

Palestinian flags are flying all over Doha and fans are also holding the flags. This was sure to be a surprise to Israeli journalists because the flag is banned from being displayed in public anywhere in Israel or the occupied West Bank. The journalists also reported unwelcoming comments from restaurants and taxi drivers.

Israelis should not be surprised to find negative comments directed at them when in an Arab country, even in Jordan and Egypt. The Arab world is 22 nations that all speak Arabic and have some shared culture. The Arabs in general are highly informed on their history and the injustices surrounding the founding of Israel. The desperate plight of the Palestinian people is part of their culture and awareness.

Officially, Qatar does not have any normalization agreement with Israel and is a very strong supporter of Palestinian rights and the need for a Palestinian state, which is not on the agenda with the current Israeli government. The recent elections have seen Benjamin Netanyahu return to power with the help of an allied extremist party that is opposed to giving any human rights to Palestinians.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for the Qatari-supported media Al Jazeera, was assassinated in May by an Israeli Army sniper in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government admits that she was killed by an Israeli soldier, but claims it was an accidental shooting. An independent investigation revealed she was not in the crossfire of any battle, but instead was solely targeted and murdered while wearing full identification that she was the “PRESS”. The FBI had wanted to open an investigation into the killing, but the Israeli government refused the request, even though the Israeli government depends on the U.S. to financially survive. Israel has received from the U.S. taxpayers, as of May 2021, $146 Billion, more than any other country.

On November 17, Al Jazeera aired a segment on its “The Stream” broadcast. Interviewed were filmmaker Dena Takruri, a Palestinian American journalist with Al Jazeera, her cameraman, and an Israeli representative of the Israeli NGO “Breaking the Silence”, a group of Israeli veterans who have served in the occupied territory and seeking to inform the Israeli public about the true situation there. He explained that Israeli citizens are indoctrinated all their lives to never question why there is no end to the occupation. Further, he said there is no incentive for Israel to end the occupation, therefore it may last forever. Takruri has made a new film called, ‘How Israeli Apartheid Destroyed my Hometown’ which documents how 30,000 Palestinians live there in almost concentration camp conditions. They are surrounded by illegal Israeli settlers who throw rocks, garbage, and even urine at the Palestinians, who are prohibited from walking out of their front door onto the main street, and instead must exit home from a secretive back exit.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been the first of its kind and may be a breakthrough in calling out Israel and its apartheid regime. The Israeli journalists and fans in Doha will be uncomfortable after the unwelcoming reception there, but it will be food for thought and a chance for the Israeli public to finally question, “Why?”

Qatar World Cup Came to Clarify that Normalization with ‘Israel’ is Only Governments, Not Peoples’ Affair!

November 28, 2022

By Mohammad Youssef

The Qatar World Cup has unfolded so many events and revealed new facts the most important of which is that Palestine and the Palestinian cause still occupy a central place in the consciousness of the Arab community.

All the shameful official normalization deals with the ‘Israeli’ enemy and all the attempts by some Arab governments to normalize the relations between their people and the enemy have very clearly proved their futility. The reactions from the different standoffs said one truth that ‘Israel’ can never be accepted as a normal part of the region, and it will always be rejected by all Arab and Muslim people.

Journalists, reporters and media personnel who work in the different ‘Israeli’ media outlets have repeatedly revealed a very strong fact about how much they are detested and rejected the moment Arab people discover their ‘Israeli’ identity. The people would directly voice out their anger and refuse their presence in Qatar.

This kind of reaction would directly tell the ‘Israelis’ and the governments how much Arab people are attached to Palestine and the depth of their faith in it.

In one instance, an ‘Israeli’ reporter would start a conversation with one of the attendees at the Qatar World Cup, the moment this participant discovers he is an ‘Israeli’ he would directly cut the conversation and refuse talking to him.

In another instance, the ‘Israeli’ reporter covering the events would reveal his identity and the audiences there tell him directly there is no such thing as ‘Israel,’ we call this country Palestine.

In a third occasion, a crowd of the participants attending the World Cup would tell one of the ‘Israelis’ in the face you are not welcome here.

This thread of events and many others have made the ‘Israelis’ feel frustrated and report to their government that would in its turn report to the Qatari authorities to convey its disappointment and claims about the mistreatment of the ‘Israelis’ during the World Cup events.

Of course, neither Qatar, nor any other Arab government is capable of controlling the feeling of the people and the impulse of the Arab crowds. They represent a true and genuine reflection of their understanding to the ‘Israeli’ entity.

What is so strange actually about all of this is the shock manifested by the ‘Israelis’ themselves as if this happens as a surprise, though they should know already that all the years that passed after their agreement with both the Egyptian and Jordanian political systems did not bring them any inch closer to be accepted by both streets whether in Cairo or Amman.

‘Israel’ will never be accepted by the Arabs and Muslims and all its agreements and treaties with a government here or there will not help make it a normal part of the region.

As long as our mothers and fathers teach us that this part of the world has always been and will continue to be Palestine and not any other country or entity, and as long as the successive Palestinian generations continue to sacrifice for the full liberation of Palestine from the rivers to the sea, then the victory will definitely come.

The normalization story is behind us. To be more precise, it is under our feet in all the Arab streets. Governments take note of that!

‘Israel’ urges settlers to downplay ‘identity’ at Qatar World Cup

2022/11/28 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Israeli media urges illegal Israeli settlers in the Qatar World Cup to be less visibly Israeli, after being shunned by fans around the world.

Israeli media reported that the occupation’s government urged Israelis attending the World Cup tournament in Qatar “to be less visibly Israeli”. 

The Israeli occupation pressed Israelis to keep a low profile, most notably hiding Israeli symbols — in reference to “Israeli flags and Stars of David”.

While Israeli officials voiced hope that “a positive, hassle-free Israeli presence in Qatar could advance “Israel’s” ambitions to further integrate into the region after the normalization deals,” as per Israeli media, the situation on the ground dashed their hopes, as football fans from all around the world have been snubbing Israeli journalists in the country.

Israeli journalists failed to interview World Cup fans, most notably Arabs, despite exerting strained efforts, illustrating that the normalization deals inked by four Arab countries with the Israeli occupation don’t convey the sentiments of their nationals.

Meanwhile, fans around the world also shunned Israeli journalists in protest against the brutal human rights violations “Israel” commits against Palestinians.

Since the World Cup kicked off, there have been various videos that went viral of fans refusing to be interviewed by Israeli media.

Israeli Channel 12’s reporter hinted that Israeli authorities are “concerned about what is happening with the Israelis in Qatar.” In response, Channel 12‘s Nir Dvori backed the occupation’s request that Israelis conceal their “identity”.

Occupation media also revealed that “the occupation authorities protested against the treatment of Israelis in Qatar.”

“The Qatar World Cup has brought ‘Israel’ face to face with an unpleasant truth and harsh reality that is extremely painful for Israelis, as for the first time all those Israelis who to date have been so enthusiastic about the Arab or Persian Gulf, have now had their first bitter taste of the rejection, disregard, and refusal to accept Israelis in an Arab Muslim state,” according to an article in the Israeli newspaper “Israel Hayom” titled “Qatar World Cup shows ‘Israel’ is still hated.”

“All those who claim that the inhabitants of the Gulf states harbor no ill will toward the ‘State of Israel’, have now seen their theory shot to pieces and have woken up to an entirely different reality,” it added.

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Enmity ongoing, normalization fragile: Israeli media on Qatar WC

27 Nov 2022

Source: Israeli Media

By Al Mayadeen English 

Israeli media comments on the everyday videos being published about Arab fans being hostile toward Israelis in solidarity with occupied Palestine.

A Moroccan fan carrying the Moroccan flag and a Palestinian banner at the Qatar World Cup on November 27, 2022

Israeli media commented Sunday in a very disgruntled manner on the way the Arabic crowds are reacting to Israeli correspondents showing up in Qatar under the guise of reporting on the World Cup and trying to get positive statements that serve the process of normalization from the Arab fans there.

An Israeli Hayom article entitled “The World Cup in Qatar, A Mirror for the Israelis: They Do Not Like Us nor Want Us” argued that the World Cup put the Israeli occupation before a harsh and bitter reality for the Israelis.

The Israelis clarified that they saw for the first time they saw a large-scale experience of rejection, neglect, hatred, and the non-acceptance of Israelis in an Arab-Muslim country.

“Everyone claiming that the people of the Gulf do not have enmity toward Israel saw that they have been tricked, and they are experiencing a different reality,” the article added.

“News reporters in Israeli channels enthusiastically went to Qatar and set up their cameras, waiting for the Arabs living in the Gulf and the various other Arab countries to praise Israel,” it said. “However, they soon found themselves subject to contempt, avoidance, and mockery from those same Arabs.”

An Israeli news channel showed earlier in the day Moroccan fans refusing to talk to an Israeli reporter, chanting in support of Palestine and against the occupation, despite the Israeli correspondent stressing that “your government normalized ties with us… we must be at peace now!”

Israeli media commented on how a group of Arabs refused to be interviewed by an Israeli reporter and confronted him by saying “there is no such thing as Israel. It is Palestine.” The author said this was expected, noting that he “was not surprised that the overwhelming majority of Arab football fans refused to be interviewed by Israeli television channels.”

Embarrassing situation

“It is only those that do not understand how the people feel in the Arab World that will rush and set up a camera, begging an Arab to be interviewed by an Israeli channel,” the author added.

He described what the Israeli reporters were subjected to, from humiliation to embarrassing situations and even having to conceal their identity by saying: “It is shameful to see an Israeli journalist begging and hugging whoever allows him to interview them to urge them to speak positively about Israeli, only for it to appear that they don’t consider that there is an Israel, only Palestine.”

Normalization takes a hit

“This is a series blow to anyone who thought normalization was right at the corner and that normalization with Arab countries was just a matter of time,” the author wrote.

“The behavior of the average Arab citizen toward Israel shows an enmity that is more than 70 years old, and it indicates that the root of the problem is still very much alive, kicking us down, and dealing blow after blow to us.”

This is the truth and this is reality, the article stressed. “Whoever does not want to see that must close their eyes. But the harsh, bitter, and, in my opinion, painful reality is that unless the Palestinian cause is solved somehow that is acceptable by all parties, we are not and will not be welcome in Arab countries. Even in countries that have signed normalization agreements.”

“It is enough to look at the normalization agreements with Egypt to understand how we did not make any progress with the Egyptian people, which is still among the most hostile Arab peoples toward Israel,” he stressed.

Normalization agreements fragile

Former Shin Bet official Doron Matza wrote in an article on the Makor Rishon website titled, “The hatred of Israel in Qatar indicates that the Abraham Accords have a glass ceiling,” that “the rude way Arab football fans are dealing with Israeli media correspondents surprised reporters, which opened their eyes to the status quo in the Middle East and Israel’s ties in the region.”

“They do not like us in Qatar and, as apparently, in the whole Middle East, and this is the conclusion that the journalists drew in light of the unpleasant interactions with Saudi, Qatari, and Iranian fans, among others,” Matza added.

“It turns out that nothing has changed… Even if it is good to be optimistic, we must not ignore reality,” he stressed.

He also said the normalization agreements signed with Arab regimes were lackluster in terms of influencing the people, saying they “were formed against the less ideological parties in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates.”

The author then concluded that the normalization agreements signed did not influence anything in terms of how the people of the region felt toward the Israeli occupation.

“The events that took place in light of the Qatar World Cup prove that Israel’s regional standings and the contents of the Abraham Accords have a glass ceiling,” the author underscored.

An Israeli KAN public broadcaster correspondent in Qatar complained Thursday about “unpleasant” incidents he was subjected to in Qatar during the channel’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup championship being held in the country due to him being Israeli, a heavily opposed “nationality” in the region.

Hoffman also said that when he and his team arrived at a restaurant at a local beach with his team, he took some photos. The restaurant’s owner inquired about their nationality, asking them where they were coming from. “When he found out that we are from Israel, he brought the restaurant’s security guards, and they kicked us out. They also took my phone and deleted all the photos I had taken.”

Another Israeli correspondent said a few days ago that he was bothered by the stances of the Arab fans attending the 2022 World Cup, saying that they would refuse to be interviewed by him due to his allegiance.

According to the correspondent, young Lebanese men were enraged when they found out that he was Israeli, saying: “I would also like to say that even off the air, whichever Arab fans we meet there with and introduce ourselves to, they reject talking to us altogether.”

Since the World Cup kicked off, there have been various videos that went viral of Arab fans refusing to be interviewed by Israeli media.

“All attempts to talk to football fans in Doha did not go according to plan,” Israeli media has said. “Videos are being circulated online are of Saudi fans, a Qatari shopper, and several Lebanese fans purposely avoiding Israeli reporters.”

Israeli Channel 12 correspondent, Ohad Hamo, expressed his frustration from the “maltreatment” of the Arab masses he came across in the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Arab people of all nations refused to be interviewed by him, an Israeli, during a live TV broadcast. 

“Everyone knows us, perhaps from the widespread Tik Tok videos. They come to us and criticize us being here,” Hamo said in objection. “I don’t know why,” he cried out. 

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The BBC’s abysmal coverage of Qatar’s World Cup

The British state-owned broadcaster’s refusal to show Qatar’s Opening Ceremony reeks of hypocrisy

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Omar Ahmed

November 21 2022

The FIFA World Cup held in Qatar is probably going to be the worst in the 92-year history of the tournament, but not for the reasons most are thinking.

Aside from the fact that it is being held for the first time in winter due to the soaring summer temperatures of the Persian Gulf – and apart from the many off-field controversies surrounding the event – this year’s World Cup has kicked off with shockingly biased coverage by the BBC.

The choice of Qatar to host the prestigious global football tournament was always going to be one steeped in controversy – a West Asian Muslim nation, for one, had never snagged a prize this big, and of such global significance.

So from the onset, bribery scandals implicating the Qataris with the corrupt-prone FIFA organization ran rife. True or not, to date there exists no hard evidence linking Qatar and its successful bid to host the World Cup.

The first World Cup in West Asia

Then there was the cultural aspect: a conservative, Arab, Asian, Muslim-majority emirate was deemed unworthy of hosting the world’s most important football event. The biases run deep: consider, for instance, that this World Cup is only the second ever to be hosted in Asia – the world’s biggest continent – after Japan-South Korea co-hosted in 2002.

Alcohol and football spectating often go hand in hand, and the Qataris have already made headlines by announcing two days before the tournament a ban on the sale of alcohol inside stadiums. This, despite a contractual agreement between FIFA and US beer giant Budweiser, which enjoyed exclusive official sponsor rights to sell its drinks at the World Cup.

However, these issues can and have by and large been overlooked by most football fans and the media. The elephant in the room, has always been the issue of Qatari human rights and whether it is therefore “unfit” to host the world’s greatest sporting event, after the Olympics.

These pressing issues, so championed by the liberal west, include democracy, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the plight and treatment of migrant workers – most of these from South Asia. Yet while some of the charges are valid talking points, they are accompanied by an all too familiar feeling of western double standards.

The BBC snubs the Opening Ceremony

The BBC, which has built a global reputation for its renowned football coverage throughout the decades – including many memorable World Cups – has let itself down immensely over its refusal to air Qatar 2022’s Opening Ceremony.

The opening show, after all, is every host nation’s chance to introduce itself to the rest of the world and put on a dazzling and meaningful display of its heritage, culture, and a means to project its soft power. Yet millions of television viewers in the UK were deprived of witnessing the spectacle Qatar had painstakingly organized. This was British petulance and pettiness on display for all the world to see.

From the very outset, BBC presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker set a scathing tone with a disclaimer-like segment prior to the program. “It’s the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn’t even been kicked,” he said before listing the aforementioned controversies.

“Against that backdrop, there’s a tournament to be played – one that will be watched and enjoyed around the world. Stick to football, say FIFA. Well, we will – for a couple of minutes at least.”

He wasn’t joking either. For a good 20 minutes, the show intended to display the opening ceremony of the first World Cup in West Asia, was instead an insufferable bore of virtue-signaling by the BBC and its panel of pundits.

Online backlash against the BBC

Naturally, this deviation from the main subject was picked up on social media by both popular, verified users, and average football fans, alike. The people tuned into the BBC, not only for the opening ceremony, but you guessed it – for football.

British media personality Piers Morgan was among those who slammed the BBC over its “outrageously disrespectful” coverage for not broadcasting the opening ceremony and playing petty politics. “If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of (British) employees & spare us this absurd hypocrisy,” he added.

These sentiments were echoed across Twitter, with many users describing the BBC’s coverage as a “disgrace.” Others pointed out the blatant hypocrisy of the pundits, who despite criticizing the Qataris and essentially boycotting the opening ceremony, still will be getting paid to film the month-long spectacle in the country.

Selective moral outrage

What has been remarkable, though, has been the incessant moral outrage that has emerged in the build-up to this competition – noticeably absent not only in all previous World Cups, but also interestingly enough, in the last tournament which was hosted in Russia – the villain of the hour, and Europe’s current security bogeyman.

That 2018 World Cup opening ceremony was neither snubbed, nor were LGBT rights or any other human rights issues invoked. Remember that this was four years after the annexation of Crimea – a prelude to the current, on-going Russian military operation in Ukraine.

At the time, the BBC’s coverage proceeded as normal, despite publicized accusations of “sports washing.” Likewise, the BBC had no qualms about broadcasting the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in spite of (unsubstantiated) western claims of a Uyghur genocide.

So why has Qatar been singled out? Some observers have pointed to Islamophobia, which truth be told, may be a far too simplistic assumption, although there has definitely been obvious cases of this in certain western media coverage. What is true is that Arabs and Muslims remain pretty much the only global demographic left against which racist and ethnic bashing are not only allowed, but roundly applauded.

Linekar’s fellow pundits include female ex-footballer Alex Scott who tried to defend her presence in Qatar despite criticizing the country’s human rights record, “Because I love my job,” she argued – which she justified by having these “harder conversations.”

“You think about four years ago, I was the first female pundit for the BBC at a World Cup. You think about how far we’ve moved in four years.” Interestingly enough, not only did she share her commentary in the last World Cup in Russia, but she was also seen pictured with President Vladimir Putin. Clearly “human rights” were of no concern to her back then.

Former footballer Alan Shearer’s moral outrage against Qatar is also ironic, given that he is a vocal proponent of Saudi Arabia’s takeover of his beloved hometown club, Newcastle United. The Saudis, after all, practically wrote the textbook on repression and rights violations. Why hasn’t he opposed lucrative Saudi investment in the Magpies?

Perhaps feeling compelled to address the Saudi acquisition while discussing the World Cup in Qatar, Shearer did say: “Do I love the impact that it has had on Newcastle? Absolutely. Newcastle are buzzing and playing some great football.”

“Also, do I think that the Saudis and other countries should be held to account over human rights? Absolutely yes.”

What about the next FIFA World Cup?

The virtue signaling we are witnessing will likely continue to be throughout the rest of the World Cup. The BBC have already taken the unprecedented step of placing politics at the forefront of their sports coverage.

In terms of consistency, then, it will be interesting to see where they go with the next FIFA World Cup to be jointly hosted by the US, Canada, and Mexico. Will the BBC snub the opening ceremony to protest rampant US police brutality, its dismal human rights record, its illegal wars, arms sales to despotic regimes, or its on-going theft of Syrian oil?

How about Canada’s arms trade with Saudi Arabia which contributes directly to the devastating war in Yemen where tens of thousands have died and millions are on the verge of starvation? And let’s not forget the narco-state that has emerged in Mexico, where kidnapping and capital crimes now rule the streets, with little pushback from the government.

Of course, the British government’s mouthpiece will have no objections with those host nations. No, the BBC will not spare even a second to point out those deadly crimes that affect tens of millions more people than whatever-Qatar-did-wrong.

Ultimately, for football fans around the world who eagerly waited four long years for this tournament, it won’t be hard to watch this Qatari World Cup. It will only be hard to watch it on the BBC.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

World Cup Arab fans shun Israeli media, reject normalization: Reports

22 Nov 2022 

Source: Israeli Media

By Al Mayadeen English 

Arab football fans refuse to be interviewed by Israeli journalists in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Arab football fans refuse to be interviewed by Israeli journalists in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Israeli media agencies reported on Tuesday that Arab fans in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are distancing themselves from the Israeli media and are rejecting normalization with the occupation.

i24news said that several Israeli media agencies told Reuters that those asked for interviews turned their backs, refused to answer, or shouted Palestine, adding that fans are specifically shunning Israeli reporters, in a move that could illustrate challenges in warming relations between the Gulf and “Tel Aviv”.

Israeli officials expressed their hope that the US-brokered normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in 2020, and later with Sudan and Morocco, would lead to further normalization, including with Saudi Arabia, i24news said.

“While Israel did not qualify for the World Cup, it had hoped the presence of an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Israelis at the event would warm ties,” the website said, noting that this “included Israeli reporters, who flew to Qatar ahead of the event on connecting flights, while one of them was on the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Doha on Sunday, under a FIFA-brokered agreement,” the website added.

“Attempts to talk to soccer fans in Doha didn’t go according to plan,” the website added, noting that footage circulated online shows Saudi fans, a Qatari shopper and a number of Lebanese fans deliberately distancing themselves from Israeli reporters, i24news confirmed.

Two days ago, Israeli media said that Lebanese fans in the World Cup Qatar 2022 refused to speak to Channel 12 reporter after learning he was Israeli.

According to the Israeli channel’s correspondent in Qatar, the Lebanese young men became angry when they learned that the person speaking to them was from an Israeli media agency. The correspondent said, “The Lebanese young men refused to recognize the existence of Israel,” stressing that “Israel” does not exist, it is Palestine.

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Debunking the myth of ‘de-politicizing’ sports

November 20, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Ahmad Karakira 

Ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, calls to de-politicize sports seem ridiculous and senseless upon examining the inseparable historical connection between sports and politics.

Debunking the myth of ‘de-politicizing’ sports

A few days before the 2022 Qatar World Cup, French President Emmanuel said that sport should not be politicized.

“I think we must not politicize sport,” said Macron, whose national team is defending the title it won in Russia in 2018.

Macron, who will go to Qatar if the French team reaches the semifinals, said it was “a very bad idea to politicize sport,” noting that France will host the Olympic Games in 2024.

This comes amid a wave of criticism that Qatar is being subjected to over reports that many migrant workers — predominantly from South Asia and South-East Asia and Africa — have suffered from exploitation and widespread labor abuses while working on the Gulf country’s World Cup projects.

Doha is also accused of allegedly paying bribes to some football federations in exchange for winning the right to host the FIFA World Cup on its territory.

It seems that the French President is contradicting himself and has apparently “forgotten” his interference and role in ensuring that French player Kylian Mbappe remains in France with his current team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), as well as forcing coach Didier Deschamps to call Real Madrid player Karim Benzema to the French national team and participate in the 2020 European Championship, as per investigative journalist Romain Molina.

It also seems that Macron has forgotten that his country’s football federation did politicize sport and was the first to call for the expulsion of the Russian national team from the 2022 World Cup following the start of the war in Ukraine, showing clear double standards and turning a blind eye on several other issues pertaining to human rights, such as Israeli occupation crimes against Palestinians for example.

Soon after the Ukraine war broke out, numerous sports governing bodies suspended Russia from international competitions. However, these bans coincided with unprecedented support for Ukraine despite these bodies banning any other form of political or religious expression on the field.

A history lesson

Aside from the French President’s shallow argument, let’s not forget that, historically, sports have always been intertwined with politics and used as a theater to promote political ideology, voice political messages and criticism, shift diplomatic feuds to sports arenas, and whitewash human rights violations by political regimes – also known as sportswashing.

Several sports clubs around the world were even established on the basis of politics, were influenced by their founders who are usually into politics, and their fans follow certain political ideologies.

Felix Jakens, head of Priority Campaigns and Individuals at Risk at Amnesty International UK, defines sportswashing as “a process or moment where a country with a bad human rights record attempts to use sport as a way to create positive PR to clean up its image and deflect attention away from its human rights record.”

For example, when Italy was awarded the right to host the second FIFA World Cup in 1934, Italian fascist Benito Mussolini saw it as an opportunity to whitewash his regime’s image in front of the international community, despite the heinous crimes committed at the time.

Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini awarding the 1934 World Cup to Italy’s players (AP)

Similarly, Adolph Hitler used the 1936 Olympics held in Germany in an attempt to promote Nazism and prove the superiority of the Aryan-race athletes.

Adolph Hitler during the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany in August 1936 (AP)

The same can be said about Argentina organizing the 1978 World Cup under the dictatorship of General Jorge Videla, where matches would be played a few meters away from where thousands of dissidents were being tortured.

On the other hand, the sports arena was also used, by athletes and fans, to protest injustice and show support for rightful causes.

In fact, when late boxing champion Muhammed Ali was drafted into the US Army to take part in the Vietnam war in 1966, the African-American athlete expressed his rejection of the decision, saying, “I will say directly, no, I will not go 10,000 miles to help kill innocent people.”

As a result, Ali was stripped of his title and suspended from boxing before the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in June 1971.

Boxing Heavyweight champion Muhammed Ali 1965 (AP)

In a related context, after receiving the gold and bronze medals for the men’s 200-meter race at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, African-American runners John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised a fist in a Black Power salute in protest of mistreatment and systematic racism in one of the most iconic images of 20th-century sports.

Despite being demonized by the press and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later expelling the two from the Games, Smith said this act of activism “was a cry for freedom and for human rights” and that “we had to be seen because we couldn’t be heard.”

Tommie Smith and John Carlos (Bettmann/Bettmann Archive)

Most recently, in continuation of Carlos and Smith’s activism in the sports arena, several athletes all over the world “take a knee” before the start of games in protest of police brutality and systematic racism and in support of their victims, and multiple sports federations and clubs have endorsed this cause, especially after the death of African American George Floyd, who was brutally killed by a white police officer in the US city of Minneapolis.

When it comes to fandom, in late 2018, fans of the Raja Athletic Club of Casablanca (RCA), known for their endless support for the Palestinian cause, impressed the world with a new chant called “Fbladi Dalmouni,” i.e. “In my country, I suffered from injustice.”

The lyrics of the chant recount the suffering of the Moroccan youths and blame the country’s government for corruption, the economic situation, and oppressing freedom of expression.

RCA fans are only one example of the political messages and numerous causes that sports fans express during events in order to grab attention and make their voices heard against injustice and oppression.

Another example is notably Celtic F.C. fans, who have always openly declared their support for the Palestinian cause by abundantly raising Palestinian flags in their stadium, all whilst chanting pro-Palestinian anthems. FIFA usually fines the Scottish Football Association over Celtic fans’ acts of solidarity with the Palestinian people, deeming it “not appropriate for a sports event.”

In stark contrast, FIFA, along with other major sports bodies, allow themselves to practice double standards and violate their rules by hailing acts of solidarity with Ukraine.

As such, it becomes clear that amid such political activism in sports, as well as other similar acts, a call such as Macron’s to de-politicize sports seems ridiculous and senseless upon examining the inseparable historical connection between sports and politics.

The French President’s call is also unjust and would deprive athletes and fans of a huge platform to voice their opinion and shed light on their causes in a world full of injustices.

World Cup 2022.. How to involve the international conflict in the football event?

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We are all Palestinian’: Fans Show Solidarity with Palestine ahead of World Cup in Qatar (VIDEOS)

November 20, 2022

Fans show solidarity with Palestine ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. (Photo: via WAFA)

Hundreds of football fans converged on Qatar’s Lusail City on Saturday waving Palestinian flags ahead of the start of the World Cup, The New Arab reported.

The event was organized by the Qatar Youth Against Normalization group, bringing together locals and fans who had traveled to the Gulf state for the games.

Videos posted to social media showed a carnival atmosphere in Lusail City, with fans waving Palestinian flags, wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh, and doing the dabke dance to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“The people of Algeria love Palestine, victory [for the Palestinians] God willing,” said one Algerian fan.

Additionally, videos of the fans singing and dancing together were shared on social media under the hashtag #raisepalestineflag.

“We love Palestine, long live Palestine!” said one Tunisian fan.

“Free Palestina, Vamos Palestina!” said an Argentinian fan, who had joined the scores of other football fans in Lusail.

The event came hours after Qatari Assistant Foreign Minister Lulwah Al-Khater expressed solidarity with the Palestinians at a press conference on the eve of the tournament.
“We expect to celebrate [the World Cup] with thousands of our brothers and sisters from Palestine and we affirm here that their cause and our just cause in Palestine will always remain present in our conscience,” she said.
The 2022 World Cup is set to kick off in Doha on Sunday evening and is the first time an Arab country has hosted football’s top international tournament.
(The New Arab, PC, SOCIAL)

‘Palestinians in Gaza Enjoy First Match of the World Cup (PHOTOS)

Palestinians in Gaza enjoyed the first match of the World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Palestinians in Gaza enjoyed the first match of the World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador, which ended in Ecuador’s 2-0 victory.

The Palestinian fans raised flags of Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, and other Arab teams participating in the World Cup, along with Palestinian flags.

This is the first time the World Cup has been held in an Arab country.

(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

Israel Bombs Syria Killing 4 Soldiers, its 2nd Aggression in 6 Days

ARABI SOURI

The ‘Jewish’ Israel bombed several posts in central and coastal Syria in the early hours of the morning today, Saturday, November 19, a Syrian military spokesperson said in a statement carried by the Syrian news agency SANA.

In its report, strangely not the website’s main headline, SANA quoted the Syrian military spokesperson:

“At about six thirty in the morning, the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression from over the Mediterranean Sea from the direction of Baniyas, targeting some points in the central and coastal region, and our air defenses intercepted the incoming missiles of aggression and shot down most of them.”

The Israeli aggression killed four soldiers and injured one more in addition to causing material damage, the military spokesperson’s statement concluded.

This is the second Israeli aggression against Syria in the past 6 days, the previous aggression killed and injured Syrian army soldiers.

The Israeli (Read: NATO and the collective West through Israel) aggressions are blatant violations of International Law, the UN Charter, and the May 31st, 1974 ‘Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria,’ dozens of useless UN peacekeepers (UNDOF) were deployed since on the Golan to observe the agreement whose role is just to count the Israeli aggressions and report it to the UNSC which in turn calls for peace in useless statements.

The role of Russia remains very strange in the continuous Israeli aggressions, the Russian military has an agreement with Israel on non-confliction over Syria’s skies, and holds back weapons Syria purchased over a decade ago under request from the Israelis despite the fact that some of those dated weapons like the S300 are very much available in NATO countries including NATO’s launchpad post against Russia, Ukraine.

Moreover, Russia offered its more advanced S400 to countries hostile to it like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and actually sold it to other countries in its opponent camp like Turkey, all of which are parts of the US-led war of terror and attrition against the Syrian people.

The least that Russia can do in light of the repeated Israeli aggressions is not some empty words of condemnation by its foreign ministry, but rather withdraw itself from the weird agreement of coordination with Israel over Syria, which itself is against international law that Russia is saying it wants to preserve, draw down its diplomatic ties with the ‘Jewish’ state, or pressure the Israelis with fewer revenues through trade and tourism if the Israelis continue their breach of the UN Security Council resolutions which Russia is one of 5 permanent members of.

The same, above, goes for China, another permanent member of the UNSC that has very large economic and military ties with Israel.

That is if Russia does not want to sell its advanced weapons to Syria and actually allow the Syrian people to defend themselves with the weapons it delivered earlier.

The ‘Jewish’ state of Israel that commits crimes against the real Semites, the people of the Levant around the clock including on Sabbaths, needs wars to continue its illegal occupation of land, peace will force its criminal leaders to look after the Jews expelled from Europe and from Russia and shipped into Palestine to serve the overall Zionist dream of building the antiChrist’s kingdom.

Jews against Israel and Zionism
Israel is an anti-Jewish Zionist entity

Will Syria be able to restrain itself before retaliating militarily against Israel and its regional sponsors and causing mutual destruction to all parties, not only to Syria alone, is no longer a question, it’s a matter of when the retaliation strikes will start, Syria has nothing further to lose, unlike all its foes who contributed to its destruction.

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التقى بري سراً في بيروت… ودوكان في باريس: هل أحرق باسيل كل الجسور مع فرنجية؟

 الجمعة 18 تشرين الثاني 2022

الأخبار

لم يكن موقف النائب جبران باسيل من رفض ترشيح سليمان فرنجية جديداً، لكنّ خطابه المسرّب من باريس أثناء الاجتماع مع مناصريه، أدى إلى اشتعال الجبهة مع رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري، إذ إن باسيل أطلق مواقف تنتقِد بري، وقال إن «انتخاب فرنجية سيُعيدنا إلى عام 1990، فننتقِل من ثلاثية بري – الحريري – الهراوي إلى ثلاثية بري – ميقاتي – فرنجية». وأكد باسيل «أننا لن نسجّل على أنفسنا أننا انتخبنا حدا متل فرنجية، وما في رئيس جمهورية طالما نحنا (أي التيار) ما قبلنا ولو اتفق الكل عليه». 

على إثر هذا التسريب عمّم التيار على محازبيه «أننا في مرحلة مدّ جسور وتواصل والمطلوب عدم مهاجمة أحد في اللقاءات الداخلية وعلى الإعلام ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي»، وأطلق توضيحاً أن «رئيس التيار لم يتهجّم على أحد، بل أوضح أمام الجالية في باريس أسباب عدم تأييده فرنجية بأنه لا يريد بالعودة داخلياً إلى تلكَ المرحلة». وسريعاً ردّ بري على كلام باسيل ببيان مختصر قال فيه: «في جميع الحالات ما كانَ الأمر عليه في عام 1990 نعتقد أنه أفضل مما قدّم لنا في السنوات الست الماضية والذي يتلخص بـ: عون- باسيل- جريصاتي».

لقاء الساعتين السري
هذه الجولة من الصراع بين الطرفين لم تكُن لتشكّل مفاجأة لولا المجريات التي سبقتها وبقيت «سرية»، إذ تبين أن باسيل زار قبل بضعة أيام عين التينة والتقى الرئيس بري بعيداً عن الإعلام. ووفقَ معلومات «الأخبار» فقد تواصل باسيل مع القائم بأعمال السفارة اللبنانية في قطر السفيرة فرح بري خلال زيارة له للدوحة وقال إنه يريد ترتيب لقاء مع رئيس مجلس النواب لتهدئة الأجواء، وهكذا كان. عادَ باسيل والتقى بري بداية الأسبوع وعبّر عن نيته فتح صفحة جديدة من أجل البلد، معتبراً «أننا كلنا لدينا أخطاء والآن لا بد من حوار بين الجميع للخروج من الأزمة»، وكانَ جواب بري مُرحباً خاصة أنه هو من دعا إلى حوار بشأن الرئاسة، ولن يمانع بفتح صفحة جديدة مع «حليف الحليف».
تسريب باسيل استتبعته مقابلة مع «فرانس 24» جدّد خلالها تأكيده على «عدم دعم ترشيح فرنجية» وقال: «لا نتفق معه على البرنامج السياسي الإصلاحي ببناء الدولة. ومع تفهمنا لمواقف أطراف أخرى مثل حزب الله بحماية البلد والمقاومة وغيره، نرى أن الأولوية اليوم لبناء الدولة». 
أما في ما يتعلق بزيارته لفرنسا، فقالت مصادر مطلعة إن «باسيل اجتمع حتى أمس مع المنسق الخاص للمساعدات الدولية للبنان السفير بيار دوكان نحو ساعتين ونصف ساعة، وكان لقاء إيجابياً». موضحة أن التنسيق بين باسيل والفرنسيين والقطريين قائم حول ثلاثة ملفات:

– الترتيبات في ما خص بدء شركة «توتال» عملها في النصف الثاني من كانون الثاني، كون باسيل مطلعاً على تفاصيله».
– تولي فرنسا دوراً بدعم اسم يتوافق عليه باسيل مع البطريرك بشارة الراعي دون الإعلان عنه، لكن ضمن سلة تضمن خروجاً سياسياً اقتصادياً من الأزمة، مع معالجة ثغر الطائف، وضغط فرنسي أكبر على السعودية.
– دور صندوق النقد بمعزل عن مجلس النواب، وهو يحاول الإيحاء بأنه هو وحده من كان يؤيد إقرار الـ«كابيتال كونترول».

حرق الجسور
ما حصلَ أمس، اعتُبِر بمثابة قطع الطريق أمام أي محاولات يقوم بها الأقربون قبل الأبعدين، وشكّل إحراجاً لحزب الله الذي دخل على خط الوساطة بين باسيل وفرنجية بشخص أمينه العام السيد حسن نصرالله. وقد اعتبرت مصادر معنية بالملف الرئاسي أن «باسيل يظهر كمن يتعمد علناً دفن أي مبادرة تؤدي إلى اتفاق بينه وبين فرنجية برعاية نصرالله». ويكون باسيل بهذا الكلام قد صعّب الموقف أكثر فأكثر خاصة أن حزب الله لا يزال، حتى اللحظة، يعتبر باسيل مدخلاً أساسياً لوصول أي مرشح إلى بعبدا».

ملفات باريس: «توتال» وصندوق النقد الدولي والرئيس التوافقي


ولم تقلّ مواقف باسيل الجديدة إثارة عن أجواء مجلس النواب صباحاً، حيث تحولت الجلسة السادسة التي دعا إليها بري لانتخاب رئيس للجمهورية إلى ساحة تجدّدت فيها الشجارات السياسية انعكاساً لتصاعد حدة الاحتقان والخلاف حول تفسير الدستور وعلى أي أساس يتم اعتماد الثلثين. أما في المضمون فسجّلت الجلسة تعديلات صغيرة حيث برز اسم سليمان فرنجية للمرة الأولى، كذلك اسم ميشال ضاهر، علماً أنه من الطائفة الكاثوليكية. وارتفع عدد الأصوات لزياد بارود إلى ثلاثة أحدها لنائب رئيس مجلس النواب الياس بو صعب، وصوت للنائب الياس جرادي. فيما التزم باقي نواب التكتل بمعظمهم بالورقة البيضاء، إلى جانب نواب حزب الله، حركة أمل والحلفاء وتيار المردة وبعض المستقلين السنّة المتحالفين مع الحزب كحسن مراد وجهاد الصمد.


الخارجيّة: ننسّق مع إيران ولا ضغوط أميركية
نفى وزير الخارجية عبد الله بوحبيب تعرّضه لأيّ ضغوط بشأن موقف لبنان خلال اجتماع لجنة حقوق الإنسان التابعة للأمم المتحدة، حيث كانت الولايات المتحدة تعمل على «طرد» إيران من عضوية اللجنة المعنية بالمرأة على خلفية الاحتجاجات القائمة في إيران.
وقال مسؤولون في وزارة الخارجية إن لبنان نسّق موقفه مع الأطراف الصديقة، وإن تشاوراً واسعاً حصل في بيروت بمشاركة جميع المسؤولين في الدولة والقوى الأساسية. ونفى هؤلاء أن يكون هناك أي طلب أميركي من لبنان للتصويت لمصلحة القرار. وجاءت توضيحات وزارة الخارجية رداً على ما نشر في «الأخبار» أمس عن مقاربة رئيس الحكومة نجيب ميقاتي ووزير الخارجية للملف، ومسألة التجاوب مع الضغوط الأميركية.
وأمس، استقبل الوزير بوحبيب السفيرة الأميركية في بيروت دوروثي شيا، ولم يفهم إذا كان النقاش قد تطرّق الى هذا الأمر، لكنه استقبل لاحقاً السفير الإيراني في بيروت مجتبى أماني وجرى البحث في التعاون الثنائي في المنظمات الدولية. وغرّد أماني بعد الاجتماع «إن التعاون الثنائي قائم لخدمة القضايا المحقّة، وإن الأمر تجلّى في مقاربة الوزير بوحبيب لهذا الموضوع».

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