The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

May 23, 2020

By Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The ‘War on Syria’ is far from being over, and it will continue until all foreign forces illegally present on Syrian soil retreat; either willingly, or defeated.

And even though the American presence in Syria has no clear and realistic political purpose other than wreaking havoc. https://transnational.live/2020/05/19/america-exists-today-to-make-war-how-else-do-we-interpret/ and making it hard for Russia to help reach a decisive victory, in a twist of fate, the focus of the Russo-American conflict in the region may soon move away from Syria.

In reality, the outcome of the ‘War on Syria’ was never expected by the initial assembly of adversaries when they launched the attack. Furthermore, they had many deep differences and nothing in common other than a shared hatred for Syria, but the unexpected turn of events has intensified their internal conflict and seemingly catapulted the strife between those former allies much further afield to a new hub in Libya.

Whilst the world and its media are busy with COVID-19, a new huge struggle is brewing, and this time, it is drawing new lines and objectives that are in reality going to be fueled, financed and executed by the former once-united enemies of Syria; but this time, it will be against each other.

An array of regional and international issues lies behind the impending conflict; and to call it impending is an under-statement. It is already underway, but hasn’t reached its peak yet, let alone making any significant news coverage.

It is a real mess in Libya now, and the short version of a long story goes like this:

Soon after NATO hijacked the UNSC mandate to enforce a no-fly-zone decision over Libya and manipulated it in a manner that ‘legalised’ bombing Libya culminating in toppling and killing Gadhafi, the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the formal capital Tripoli on the Western side of the coast, was created.

But the ‘revolution’ against Gadhafi was launched in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi. After Gadhafi’s demise, another interim government was formed in Libya’s east under the name of National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC, whose flag is the flag of the ‘revolution’, did not recognize the GNA and regarded it as a Western lackey.

After a few years of squabbling, NTC strongman General Haftar decided to militarily disable the GNA.

With little concrete protection on the ground from the West, and under the guise of upholding UNSC mandates, Erdogan jumped into the existing void and the opportunity to grab Libya’s oil, and decided to send troops to support the GNA.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51003034

In return, Haftar is getting support from other regional players. Recently, representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Greece, Cyprus and France had a meeting and denounced Turkey’s involvement in Libya. https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/05/12/greece-egypt-cyprus-france-uae-denounce-turkey-in-joint-statement/. Erdogan perhaps borrowed a term from his American part-ally-part-adversary and referred to the meeting and its decree as an ‘alliance of evil’. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/turkey-accuses-five-nations-of-forming-alliance-of-evil/2020/05/12/a3c5c63a-9438-11ea-87a3-22d324235636_story.html Fancy this, a NATO member accusing other NATO members of being in an alliance of evil.

It must be noted that even though Saudi Arabia did not attend the meeting, it was there in spirit, and represented by its proxy-partner the UAE.

The USA took a step further and accused Russia and Syria of working behind the scenes and planning to send fighters to Libya to support Haftar. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-usa-syria-idUSKBN22J301

But this article is not about the geopolitical hoo-ha. It is about shedding a light on what score-settling is expected to eventuate in Libya, and who is likely to end up doing the fighting against who.

Even though the Afghani Mujahedeen were purportedly the first Jihadi fighters to engage in battle in the 20th Century, their fight was against foreign USSR troops. In terms of an internal force that aimed for fundamentalist Muslim rule, there is little doubt that the first event of such insurgency in the Middle East was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) revolt that took place in Syria in the early 1980’s and which was quashed by the then President, Hafez Assad. After their smashing defeat, the fundamentalists kept their heads low until they lit the flame again in the Palestinian refugee Naher Al-Bared Camp at the northern outskirts of Tripoli Lebanon in 2007.

There are, for those who are unaware, two cities bearing the name Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast; one is in Northern Lebanon, and it is Lebanon’s second largest city, and the other Tripoli is located on the Western side of the Libyan Coast. They are sometimes called Tripoli of the East and Tripoli of the West, respectively.

Shaker Al-Absi, leader of Fateh Al Islam, a Salafist terror organization, declared jihad and engaged in a bitter fight against the Lebanese Army. He was defeated, remained at large, but any look at Lebanon’s Tripoli after his demise displayed a clear evidence of a huge build-up of Salafist presence in the city.

When the ‘War on Syria’ started only four years later, Tripoli became a major hub for the transport of fighters and munitions from Lebanon into Syria. Nearly a decade later, and with a few Jihadi pockets left in the Idlib province now, their defeat in Syria is imminent.

But who exactly are those murderous head-chopping radical elements that we talking about; past and present?

When the coalition that started the attack on Syria took form, it was comprised virtually of all of Syria’s enemies. Most of them were religious fundamentalists. In an early article, I called them ‘The Anti-Syrian Cocktail’.  https://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-cocktail-by-ghassan-kadi.html

Back then, ISIS, did not exist in the form that it became known as. Furthermore, I have always advocated that there was no difference at all between Al-Nusra and ISIS and/or any other Takfiri organizations. They are all terror-based and founded on violent readings of Islam.

In time however, and this didn’t take long, it became apparent that even though the ideologies were identical, there were two major financiers and facilitators to those many different terror organizations. One was primarily funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the other by Qatar and facilitated by Turkey.

The former group is affiliated with what is known as Saudi Wahhabi Islam. They are also known as the Salafists. The latter group are the MB’s.

As the war was shifting in favour of Syria, their agendas diverged, the schism grew deeper and strong rivalries emerged; especially as the Wahhabis and their sponsors were sent home defeated. Part of this fallout was the ongoing Saudi-Qatari conflict.

But the rivalry that is least spoken about is personal. It is the one between Erdogan and Al-Saud.

They are both fighting over the leadership of fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But Erdogan also has his nationalist anti-Kurdish agenda, and of course, he is desperate to put his hands on oil supplies that he can call his own. He cannot find oil on Turkish soil or in Turkish waters, but he is prepared to act as a regional pirate and a thug and steal another nation’s oil. If no one is to stop him, he feels that he can and will.

Upon realizing that Turkey could not get in Syria either victory or oil, Erdogan is now turning his face west towards Libya. He finds in Libya a few scores that he hopes to settle after his failure in Syria. He wants a face-saving military victory, he wants to assert his position as THE Sunni leader who can reclaim glory, and he wants free oil. Last but not least, In Libya, he will find himself close to Egypt’s Sisi; the political/religious enemy who toppled his MB friend and ally, President Mursi.

On the other side, defeated but not totally out, Saudi Arabia wants blood; Erdogan’s blood.

The Saudis blame Erdogan (and Qatar) for their loss in Syria because he was more focused on his own agenda and spoils rather than the combined ones of the former alliance they had with him. They blame him for abandoning them and making deals with Russia. They hold him responsible for the breakup of the unity of Muslim fundamentalism. They fear his aspirations for gaining the hearts and minds of Muslims who regard him as a de-facto Caliph. As a matter of fact, it was Saudi Crown Prince MBS who used the borrowed word ‘evil’ first when he stated more than two years ago that Erdogan was a part of a ‘Triangle of Evil’. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-turkey-idUSKCN1GJ1WW. And how can we forget the Khashoggi debacle and the ensuing standoff between Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

We must stop and remember once again that not long ago at all, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were allies, who together, plotted how to invade Syria and bring her down to her knees. These are the heads of the two major countries that facilitated the war machine with Saudi money injecting fighters and munitions into Syria from the south, and open Turkish borders and Qatari money injecting them from the north.

Back to Libyan General Haftar. In his westerly advance along Libya’s terrain, he cleaned up the ISIS elements who stood in his way and hindered his progress.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/02/libya-foreign-powers-khalifa-haftar-emirates-russia-us But ironically, he is now fighting their religious rival; the Turks, the protectors of the MB’s.

The USA may accuse Syria of sending troops into Libya, but where is the proof and why should Syria do this after all? And even though the Saudis and the Emiratis are warming up relationships with Syria, the Syrian Army is still engaged in battle and is not prepared to go and fight in Libya. There is nothing for it to gain. Once the war is over, Syria will be concerned with rebuilding a war-torn nation. Syria has no interests in Libya; none what-so-ever.

The role of Russia is not very clear on the ground even though there are clear indications that Russia supports Haftar ideologically. The support began when Haftar demonstrated to the Russians that he was adamant about fighting ISIS and exterminating its presence in Libya. He lived up to this promise thus far and gained Russian respect.

How will the situation in Libya eventually pan out is anyone’s guess. That said, apart from sending regular Turkish Army units, Erdogan is not short on rounding up fighters; and he has attained much experience in this infamous field of expertise from his vicious attack on Syria. With Qatari money in his pocket, he can recruit as many fighters as Qatar can afford.

Erdogan realizes that the West is not interested in backing him up militarily in Libya. The best deal he can get from America is a tacit support. And with France, a NATO member taking part in the above-mentioned five-nation conference, he will definitely have to stand alone so-to-speak.

He has Qatar behind him, but how powerful is Qatar? A ‘nation’ of 200,000 citizens? How can such a small state play such a big role and why?

Qatar is not really a nation or even a state in the true sense. Qatar is an entity, a ‘corporation’ owned by a ruling dynasty that serves the interests of the USA and Israel. https://thesaker.is/qatar-unplugged/. This family will outlay any sum of money to guarantee its own protection and continuity.

And Erdogan, the friend-and-foe of both of America and Israel, knows the vulnerabilities and strengths of Qatar, and he is using his deceptive talents to provide the Qatari ruling family with the securities that the shortfalls that America and Israel do not provide. For example, it was he who sent troops to Qatar after the Saudi threats. And even though Erdogan will never take any serious actions against his NATO masters except in rhetoric, the weak and fearful Qataris will dance to the tune of any protector and will sell their souls to the devil should they need to.

On the other hand in Libya, if Haftar finds himself facing a huge Turkish army, he will need assistance on the ground. Where will he seek it from?  His next-door neighbour Egypt? If so, will it be in the form of regular army units or hired guns?

Sisi is neither a religious nor a fundamentalist zealot, but this is not meant to be a complementary statement. He has not taken any serious black-and-white steps in regional politics. This does not mean he is a man of principles. He is probably waiting for dollar signs, and if he sees financial benefits in supporting Saudi Arabia in a proxy war against Turkey in Libya, he may opt to agree; if the price it right.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia can afford a new war, especially with current crude prices, is another story, but as the war on Yemen winds down, the gung-ho MBS is irrational enough to be persuaded. His regional enemy is no longer Assad. His current enemy is Erdogan.

To be fair to MBS, despite his vile, criminal and megalomaniac attributes, he never claims to be a religious leader, but Erdogan does, and many Sunni Muslims see in Erdogan THE leader they have been waiting for. This alone constitutes a huge challenge for MBS because neither he, nor anyone else in the whole of Saudi Arabia for that matter, is regarded anywhere in the Muslim World as a potential leader of the Sunni Muslims.

In reality, as far as Muslim leadership is concerned, the Saudis can only bank on the location of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Apart from this, they only have wealth that enables them to buy supporters, but their oil wealth is becoming increasingly vulnerable.

In the uphill fight against Erdogan within the Muslim World, both of the Saudis and the Turks realize that the fight between them in Syria is over. Actually, the Saudis have no loyal ‘troops’ on Syrian soil left to fight anyone with. This begs the question of whether or not the Turks and Saudis are moving the battle ground and the score settling from Syria to Libya.

This time around, such a potential battle between the two lines of Jihadis may have to morph from a fight between terror organizations to a war between regular armies; the Turkish Army against the Egyptian Army. Such a battle will rage over Libyan soil, with the Turks financed by Qatar and Egypt by Saudi Arabia.

Such a war will not necessarily bring in Iran into the fight. If it eventuates, it will be a fundamentalist Sunni-Sunni war, sponsored by fundamentalist Sunni states, each fighting for and against different versions of radical Muslim fundamentalism, under the watchful eyes of the USA and to the glee of Israel.

The jihadi war that was first ignited in Tripoli Lebanon between a rogue terror organization and the Lebanese Army did not end. It kept moving theatres and objectives and changing players. Is the final score going to be settled in Tripoli Libya?

هل هناك مشروع تركيّ في لبنان؟

ناصر قنديل

في نظر الكثيرين ربما يبدو السؤال مستغرباً، لكن كثيرين فوجئوا قبل عشر سنوات بوجود مشروع تركي في سورية وصل حدّ تدخل عسكري مباشر، في زمن تحذر فيه الدول العظمى من التورط بتدخل عسكري لجيوشها خارج الحدود. وتقاطع المشروع التركي في البدايات مع المشروع الأميركي وتحول إلى حصان رهانه، لكن عندما تضاربت المصالح حول حجم ونوع الدور الكردي في الحرب على سورية، لم ينطفئ المشروع التركي ولم ينضبط بالمشروع الأميركي، بل استقل بخصوصياته محافظاً على نقاط تشابك ونقاط تعارض مع المشروع الأميركي والمصالح الأميركية. وبنظر كثيرين كان الحديث قبل سنتين عن مشروع تركي في ليبيا مستغرباً، على قاعدة أن سقف الحضور التركي في ليبيا وغيرها ينبع من رهان تركي على الأخوان المسلمين واعتبارهم حصان نفوذ في المنطقة، لكن لم يكن ببال أحد توقع إقدام تركيا على الزج بقوات عسكرية عبر البحار، كما لم تفعل الدول العظمى. واليوم تمثل تركيا لاعباً إقليمياً أساسياً في الحرب الليبية، ويبدو واضحا أن خصومها داعمي الجنرال خليفة حفتر لا يملكون جرأتها وحساباتها لتدخل مشابه لتدخلها فيكتفون بالدعم المالي والتسليحي والسياسي، سواء مصر جارة ليبيا، والمعترف لها بمشروعية التداخل بالمصالح الأمنية مع ما يجري في ليبيا، ومشروعية التفكير بالتدخل بقياس التداخل، أو السعودية والإمارات، بينما غرق السعودية والإمارات في الفشل اليمني لا يفسّر وحده الحذر، باعتبار أن الفشل التركي في سورية لم يردعها عن التفكير في التدخل في ليبيا، بل ربما كان هو حافزها للتعويض عن هذا الفشل.

متابعة تحرّكات الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان تؤكد أنه لم يسلم بفشل المشروع الإقليمي لدور تركي في المنطقة، بمجرد سقوط مشروع العثمانية الجديدة، عبر سقوط مشروع السيطرة على سورية، بواسطة الأخوان المسلمين وما توفر لهم في بدايات «الربيع العربي» من قوة وزخم بزواج الغضب الشعبي مع الدعم الأميركي والغربي والخليجي، والذي جرى أن الرئيس التركي أعاد ترتيب مشروعه في ضوء النتائج، فتقبّل الحصول على كانتون تحت السيطرة التركية في سورية بديلاً عن سورية كلها، كهدف سياسي وعسكري للدور التركي في سورية، وطرح مشروع تقسيمها وتقاسمها، ثم تقبل السعي لدور في الحل السياسي والأمني في سورية بديلاً عن الكانتون. وبالتوازي لم تفت في عضد المشروع التركي بحثاً عن دور إقليمي خسائرُهُ في مصر وتونس وسقوط حكم الأخوان فيهما، بل قام أيضاً بالتنسيق مع الأخوان وقيادتهما بإعادة رسم خطة السيطرة على ليبيا أملاً بالعودة منها إلى تونس ومصر، وهو لا يمانع اليوم بمقاسمة ليبيا مع الآخرين والحصول على كانتون في طرابلس، ولن يمانع غداً بشراكة في الحل السياسي والأمني في ليبيا، بعدما يسقط حلم الكانتون.

في لبنان وخصوصاً في الشمال، نشاط تركي قديم، على نمط تقديم مساعدات غذائية، وإحياء مناسبات دينية، وبناء مستشفيات ومراكز صحية، والاشتغال على الجالية التركمانية خصوصا في عكار، وإحياء اللغة التركية حيث أمكن، وتوزيع الأعلام التركية بالتوازي، وكان لافتاً أن تقوم جماعات ناشطة في الحراك الشعبي منذ تشرين الأول، بتظهير هويتها المرجعية لتركيا، وأن ينضوي نشطاء الأخوان المسلمين في منتديات ترفع لواء «الثورة»، وأن ينتقل عشرات النشطاء من طرابلس إلى بيروت من هذه الجماعات لقيادة أعمال الشغب. كما هو لافت اليوم أن يشكل هؤلاء الإطار المنظم الذي يستند إليه رجل الأعمال بهاء الحريري الهادف لحجز مقعد سياسي في البيئة المتفجّرة والمتشققة لزعامة شقيقه الرئيس السابق للحكومة سعد الحريري، وليس مهماً أن يكون بهاء الحريري رجل تركيا أو لا، بل الأهم أن تركيا تملك خبرة الإستعمال والتوظيف بصورة غير مباشرة فلا تمانع مؤقتاً من التقاطع بالواسطة مع بهاء، منعاً لإحراجه خليجياً، تأسيساً للمرحلة التالية.

تركيا لن تألو جهداً لالتقاط أي فرصة لبناء نفوذ في أي بقعة إقليمية حساسة، بمجرد التحقق من أمرين، وجود فرصة، وكلفة منخفضة للحضور، ولبنان الذاهب للمزيد من الانحدار الاقتصادي والاجتماعي، فرصة ستتعاظم كلما تفاقمت الأزمة، وزاد الغضب الشعبي من جهة، وضعفت هيبة مؤسسات الدولة ودرجة تماسكها تحت ضغط تراجع قيمة رواتب العاملين فيها من جهة مقابلة، بحيث لا تتماسك إلا المناطق التي تقودها أحزاب ضخمة بمقدرات هائلة كحال حزب الله، وبحيث تتهاوى سريعاً نحو الفراغ والفوضى المناطق التي تعاني الفراغ السياسي في قياداتها، وهذا يجعل الشمال اللبناني مرشحاً قبل سواه لتشكيل فرصة تركيا الجديدة على البحر المتوسط، كيف وأن المال القطري جاهز للاستثمار التنافسي مع السعودية والإمارات المنكفئتين، في لبنان أكثر من سواه، والسعودية والإمارات تعانيان شح الموارد، وتوزع جبهات الاستنزاف، وكيف وأن لتركيا مآرب أخرى تتصل بترحيل المسلحين والنازحين على دفعات من إدلب نحو مكان ما، كان ليبيا، فكيف لا يكون شمال لبنان؟

Turkey Lied to Us

Source

03 May 2020 10:54  

The Investigative Journal has recently published a well-documented report about Turkey’s dirty role played in Syria and Libya. 

 “I just got back from Libya yesterday,” said Zein Ahmad*, a Turkish-backed so called Syrian National Army (SNA) militant in Afrin. “But I had been trying to leave for more than a month.” When the Libyan National Army (LNA) neared Tripoli in April 2019.

Turkish forces began heavily recruiting militants and terrorists  from its affiliated to terrorist groups and began flying hundreds to Libya every week. The exact number of terrorists Turkey has sent is unknown, but estimates range from 5,000 to 17,000.

Ahmad is a member of Ahrar al-Sharqiya,  and had been based in Afrin with the faction since Turkey’s Operation “Olive Branch” in 2018. The Turkish invasion of Afrin led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. Ahrar al-Sharqiya perpetrated widespread war crimes in the city, including looting, murder, kidnapping, and serial rape.

When asked if he believed in Turkey’s mission in Afrin, Ahmad laughed. “I was a mercenary going to Afrin, and I was a mercenary going to Libya.

The militants in Libya were promised salaries ranging from $2000-3000 per month, but reports assert that they received nothing. One member said he’s been paid $2000 every month and a half rather than every month. Some Faylaq al-Majd members who have been in Libya for more than three months say they were paid once and never again.

“They told us we would be paid $3000 a month. That never happened. The first month we got $2000. The second month, they gave us $1400. The third month, we weren’t paid at all,” Ahmad said. “So we looted. We took copper from the homes, anything gold we could find, anything valuable we could find. And the Libyans with us would take the items and sell them for us.”

After arriving in Libya, Ahmad stayed in a house in Tripoli with ten other Syrian militants and a Libyan militant who accompanied them whenever they left the house. The house was a well-appointed villa, almost certainly abandoned by its rightful owners when clashes intensified and drew closer.

 “It was nothing like we are used to in Syria,” Ahmad said. “It’s urban street combat. We don’t have the right weapons or the right skills. We are being slaughtered. And so, many of us started to refuse to fight. Or we’d be taken to the frontlines and hide there.”

Ahmad says that when the militants began defying orders, Libyan soldiers would come and beat them. He says once, when a Syrian had refused to fight three times in a row, a Libyan militiant shot him in the leg.

The number of the terrorists brought from Syria to Libya by Turkey desperate to leave Libya is growing by the day. “The last lie that Turkey told us was that we would only have to stay for two months, or three months,” Ahmad said. “But more than three months had passed for my group, and they weren’t letting us back.”

Ultimately, Ahmad was forced to pay his commander $700 to fly home to Syria. “There were around 100 of us,” he said. “Some paid $500, and some as much as $1000, but then they put us on a plane with the dead and injured and allowed us to return to Syria.”

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

alibrahim56@hotmail.com

ما هو مصدر القلق الفرنسيّ من تطورات خطيرة؟

ناصر قنديل

تتابع الحكومة الفرنسيّة الوضع في لبنان على مستويات عدة، سياسياً ودبلوماسياً ومالياً وأمنياً، بحيث توجد على الأقل أربع أو خمس دوائر مركزيّة في السلطات الفرنسية تضع الملف اللبناني على طاولة المسؤول الأول فيها، وذلك يعود حسب تقارير فرنسية موثقة وضعت بتصرف كبار المسؤولين الفرنسيين، إلى متغيرات جوهرية أحاطت بالأزمة المالية في لبنان بضوء ما ترتب على سياسات الدول تحت تأثير مرحلة ما بعد كورونا، والتي تتسم بصورة رئيسية بسياسات الانكفاء السياسي والعسكري من جهة، والركود الاقتصادي وتراجع المقدرات والإمكانات من جهة مقابلة. وبنتيجة ذلك تتوقع التقارير تطورات متسارعة نحو الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية، وسعياً تركياً متسارعاً للتخفف من أعباء الوجود في سورية، وفيما يبدو المسار الأميركي أسهل بفتح قنوات التفاوض بين الحكومة السورية والمجموعات الكردية التي ترعاها واشنطن، بوساطة روسية، يبدو التفاوض السوري مع جماعات الأخوان المسلمين مستحيلاً بعدما ثبت أن القبول بالتفاوض مع جبهة النصرة مغلق برفض سوري يحظى بتأييد روسي إيراني. وهنا تبدأ الخشية الفرنسية من خطة شبيهة لإجلاء المسلحين السوريين التابعين لتركيا نحو ليبيا، بمحاولة دفعهم مع عائلاتهم للتسلل بحراً نحو شمال لبنان.

التقارير الفرنسية تشير إلى أن قدرة لبنان على الصمود المالي لا تتعدّى السنتين، قبل أن يعجز مصرف لبنان عن توفير العملات الصعبة اللازمة لاستيراد الفيول للكهرباء والقمح للخبز عدا عن المستلزمات الطبية والدوائية، وأن الخط الانحداري الناتج عن الأزمة المالية حتى ذلك التاريخ، سينتج ضعفاً في سيطرة السلطة المركزية على المناطق اللبنانية بتأثير تنامي حال الغضب في الشارع، الذي تغذيه الانقسامات السياسية من جهة، وما تصفه التقارير الفرنسية بسياسات تصفية الحسابات المتبادلة بين الحكم وخصومه، من جهة أخرى، في ظل تأثر الأجهزة الأمنية والعسكرية بضغط تراجع القيمة الفعلية لرواتب عناصرها وضباطها وتعرضها لضغوط شديدة في بيئتها طائفياً وسياسياً، مع استمرار المواجهات في الشارع، الذي تعتقد التقارير أن ساحته الرئيسية ستتركز في منطقة الشمال، حيث أيضاً تنافس استخباري بين عدد من الأجهزة العربية والإقليمية على استقطاب الناشطين في الحراك الشعبي، والمجموعات الفاعلة في الشارع، بما فيها مجموعات المعارك التاريخيّة في أحياء طرابلس. ولا تخفي التقارير الفرنسية الخشية من سيناريو أسود ينتهي خلال عامين بسيطرة جماعات مدعومة من تركيا على مناطق أساسية في شمال لبنان، تنضمّ إليها جماعات من المعارضة السورية من مخيمات النزوح في لبنان، وأخرى فلسطينية تنتقل من مخيمات المناطق نحو مخيمي البارد والبداوي، لتظهر إدلب بديلة في طرابلس وجوارها.

تشبه التقارير الفرنسية ما يمكن أن يحدث في لبنان، بما حدث عام 1970 عندما انتقلت المجموعات الفلسطينية المسلحة من الأردن حيث خسرت معركتها العسكرية، إلى لبنان حيث كان الغليان الشعبي ينتظر حدثاً كهذا ليدخل مرحلة الانفجار. ولا تخفي التقارير نفسها القلق من انتقال مشابه لبعض المجموعات المسلحة وجموع من النازحين السوريين في الأردن وخصوصاً مخيم الركبان، برعاية إسرائيلية، عبر الخط الفاصل من تقاطع الحدود الأردنية السورية الفلسطينية، نحو تقاطع الحدود الفلسطينية السورية اللبنانية، لتستقرّ في البقاع الغربيّ، الذي دعا الفرنسيون بعض أصدقائهم من اللبنانيين للانتباه إلى خطورة تورط جماعات من مؤيديهم في هذا المخطط.

هذا الموقف الفرنسي يقف خلف السعي لدعم خطة الحكومة، وإقناع صندوق النقد الدولي بفعل الشيء نفسه، ودعوتهم للحكومة ولخصومها لوضع الخلافات جانباً، والتعاون لتلافي الأسوأ، لأن السقوط من الخاصرة الشمالية سيعني خسارة للحكومة والعهد، لكنه سيعني نهاية لفكرة الدولة والعمل السياسي، وربما تشطب بنتيجة ذلك قوى سياسية كتيار المستقبل نهائياً، وربما يكون أقل المتضرّرين بالمقابل هو حزب الله الخصم الرئيسي للغرب والخليج وحلفائهم اللبنانيين، الذي استعد لحماية بيئته من تداعيات الأزمة المالية والمعيشية، ويملك بنية منظمة وهيكلاً تنظيمياً هائلاً يتيحان له الحفاظ على الاستقرار في مناطق حضوره.

الطريق المسدود مرعب

ناصر قنديل

من جهة يظهر المشهد في الشمال مشبعاً بالغضب الناتج عن اليأس والجوع والشعور بالعجز، والتعرّض للخداع والسرقة، مع بلوغ الدولار سعر الـ 4000 ليرة والمزيد، وتوقف عجلة العمل وتناقص الموارد حتى الجفاف وارتفاع السعار حتى حدود الخيال، والغضب عندما يتفجّر فهو لا يُعقل، ويبحث عن الصخب والضجيج وجذب الأنظار ويصير ساحة مناسبة للشغب الآتي أحياناً من براءة المنتفضين، الذين يعتبرون أنهم لا يكونون قد فعلوا شيئاً إذا عادوا إلى بيوتهم بعد تظاهرات سلمية باردة هادئة، وأن غضبهم لن يؤخذ على محل الجِدّ من دون عمليات تكسير وحرق، ومواجهات بالحجارة وغير الحجارة مع الأجهزة الأمنيّة، من جيش وقوى أمن وسواهما، وهم لا يعتبرون الإنجاز إلا بسماع أنباء من نوع استقالة رئيس أو وزير أو توقيف وإلقاء القبض على مسؤول، أو بإعلان سحري عن تخفيض سعر الدولار وفتح الباب لسحب يسير للودائع بالليرة والدولار، وانخفاض فجائي للأسعار، وما عدا ذلك يعتبرونه تضليلاً وخداعاً وتلاعباً بهم وبـ «ثورتهم «.

من جهة مقابلة، جنود وضباط وعناصر أمنية معنيون بتطبيق صارم لثلاث مهام، مهمة الحظر والعزل والتباعد التي يفرضها زمن كورونا ومخاطر تفشي الوباء الجدّي والذي لا يحتمل مزحاً، ولا يجد أعذاراً للاستثناء، وإذا تفشى هذا الوباء فهو سمّ زعاف وموت يحصد بالجملة ولا يرحم. وثانياً مهمة منع التعدي على الأملاك الخاصة والعامة وأعمال الحرق والتكسير، وهي من صلب واجباتهم القانونية والدستورية. وثالثاً، منع المندسين والمتسللين والعابثين من افتعال الصدام مع الوحدات الأمنية واستهدافها لتفجير علاقة الجسم الشعبي الغاضب بهذه المؤسسات، طلباً لنزف الدماء الذي يريده متربّصون كثر يجدون في اللحظة من التقابل بين المتظاهرين والقوى الأمنيّة فرصة ذهبيّة ليلعبوا لعبتهم.

من جهة ثالثة أمامنا منطقة تختزن كل المشاكل اللبنانية، فالفقر في أعلى نسبه في الشمال، والإهمال في أعلى درجاته في الشمال، والثراء الفاحش للسياسيين كما الفساد الذي نخر الدولة ونهب المال العام، يقدّمان نماذج فاضحة شمالا، والقيادات السياسية شبه مهمّشة شعبياً، لكنها تملك تشكيلات منظمة قادرة على التلاعب بالتظاهرات والاندساس فيها ورفع شعارات وتفجير مواجهات. وهذه القيادات تجد أنها في مواجهة سياسية مصيرية مع الواقع المستجد مع حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب، وفرصتها الوحيدة لتوجيه الرسائل المتفجرة هي بركب موجة الغضب الشمالي. وفي الشمال منظمات ذات طابع أمني لها تاريخ دمويّ مع الجيش اللبناني، ومافيات تهريب منظمة لها مصالح بالفوضى ولها تاريخ كر وفر مع القوى الأمنية. وكل منها تجد في المسرح الذي توفره ساحات الغضب فرصتها المنشودة، وفي الشمال تنافس خليجي تركي قطري، يحضر فيه المال كما تحضر المخابرات، وسباق على ملء فراغات تراجع القيادات السياسية التقليدية بتنمية زعامات صف ثالث ورابع وعاشر، مسرحها هو تعبيرات الغضب الشعبي.

من جهة رابعة، حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب، التي لا تحمل أوزار المرحلة السابقة، خصوصاً برئيسها، الذي يشعر أنه يُعاقَب من الناس الذين يؤمن بأنه يمثلهم، لحساب زعماء يريدون تعطيل مساره الإصلاحي، خصوصاً في مكافحة الفساد، الذي يمثل هؤلاء الزعماء نماذجه الفاقعة، بينما الحكومة التي يترأسها بنظر الناس وقد نجحت في إثبات جدية وفعالية في مواجهة كورونا بدت بطيئة في إخراج أجوبة تمنح الأمل للناس تجاه واقعهم المعيشي الآخذ في التدهور، سواء في قدرتها على لجم ارتفاع سعر الدولار أو مواجهة الغلاء.

في السياسة تقع الفتنة النموذجيّة عندما يتقابل الحق بالحق ويندسّ الباطل بينهما. وهذا ما نحن عليه، ولهذا الخشية من الطريق المسدود، وما يثيره من ذعر ورعب مجرد التفكير بتخيل ما قد يكون آتياً على الطريق. إنها الفتنة، فمن يستطيع الانحدار إلى قعرها بسرعة تشبه انحدار سعر صرف الليرة أمام الدولار؟

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رياض سلامة يتآمر على الاستقرار: هل انطلق الانفجار الاجتماعي من طرابلس؟

حسن عليق

 الثلاثاء 28 نيسان 2020

رياض سلامة يتآمر على الاستقرار: هل انطلق   الانفجار الاجتماعي من طرابلس؟
(هيثم الموسوي)

هل بدأ الانفجار الشعبي من طرابلس؟ ما كان متوقعاً ظهرت بوادره الاولى امس، في عاصمة الشمال خاصة، وبصورة أقل حدّة في صيدا وبعض شوارع بيروت والبقاع. وصل سعر صرف الليرة إلى رقم قياسي. الكثير من المحال التجارية، في طرابلس وغيرها، توقف عن شراء المواد الاستهلاكية بسبب أسعارها التي لا تكف عن الارتفاع بصورة جنونية. لم يكن ينقص ليكتمل المشهد إلا عنف الجيش في وجه متظاهرين غاضبين في المدينة الأفقر في لبنان. ليلة امس، تظاهر شبان بعد «صلاة التراويح»، في ساحة عبد الحميد كرامي، بدعوة من مجموعة تعرفها الاجهزة الأمنية جيداً وتعرف ارتباطاتها. الداعون اختفوا، وبقي في الشارع الغاضبون الذين يعانون الأمرّين جراء البطالة وارتفاع الأسعار. هاجم المتظاهرون واجهات مصارف. واتجه بعضهم نحو منزل النائب فيصل كرامي. في الساحة، جرت مواجهات بينهم وبين قوة من الجيش متمركزة هناك. استخدم المتظاهرون الحجارة والزجاجات الحارقة. رد الجيش كان اعنف من السابق. لم يكتف بالرصاص المطاطي، إذ استخدم بعض الجنود الرصاص «الحي» أيضاً. سقط عدد من الجرحى، احدهم كان لا يزال في حال الخطر حتى ساعات الفجر الاولى.

انفجار عاصمة الشمال توّج يوماً «حامياً» في الكثير من المناطق. الطريق الساحلي بين بيروت والشمال، وبوابة الجنوب صيدا، شهدا الكثير من التحركات. في ساحل كسروان والمتن، لم يكن صعباً تمييز الخطاب السياسي المؤيد لحاكم مصرف لبنان «يندسّ» بين المتظاهرين. خطاب يلاقي الهجمة السياسية التي يقوم بها «حزب المصرف»، المترامي الأطراف سياسياً وطائفياً، دفاعاً عن سلامة، وعن طبقة الـ2 في المئة من المودعين، ورفضاً لأي عملية مساءلة عن ارتكابات الفترات الماضية، ولو كانت هذه المساءلة غير مضمونة النتائج لجهة استعادة ما يُسمّى «مالاً منهوباً»، او لناحية وضع بعض السارقين في السجون.
الحكومة كانت بطيئة في الاستجابة للتداعيات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية لحجر «كورونا». لا شك في ذلك. لكن دور رياض سلامة لا يترك أي مجال سوى لنظرية المؤامرة. صحيح ان الانهيار الاقتصادي وقع، وباتت البلاد تعيش على إيقاعه. وصحيح أيضاً أن أي حكومة، ولو كان رئيسها ووزراؤها من طينة «سوبرمان»، لا يمكنها انتشال البلاد من الكارثة في غضون أقل من خمس سنوات. لكن اداء سلامة لا يمكن وصفه بأقل من المشبوه. إذ أنه مصرّ على عدم التدخل في سوق القطع، لتخفيف وتيرة انهيار سعر الليرة، ومعها الارتفاع الناري للأسعار. كما أنه مصرّ على خلق كتلة نقدية إضافية من الليرات، بما يضاعف من ارتفاع أسعار السلع، كل السلع. وبدلاً من القيام بواجبه المنصوص عليه في القانون، وهو (حرفياً) «المحافظة على سلامة النقد اللبناني»، و«المحافظة على الاستقرار الاقتصادي» (المادة 70 من قانون النقد والتسليف)، قرر خوض معركة سياسية، لحماية نفسه، وما يمثّله، مرتكزاً إلى حماية اميركية، وإلى احتضان من قبل طغمة مالية – سياسية – دينية – طائفية شريكة له في فساده، ليبدأ بهجوم عبر وسائل إعلامية فاسدة لطالما استفادت من رشاويه من المال العام، ومن تغطيته على ارتكابات أصحابها. هجومه السياسي يتركّز حول نقطة وحيدة، مفادها ان المسؤول عن ازمة الدولار هو حزب الله. يتصرف سلامة بطريقة العميل الوضيع الذي يريد إرضاء مشغّله. وهدفه المزيد من تجويع السكان، لكي يصبح استغلال الغضب الشعبي أكثر سهولة ممن يريدون استغلاله، والذين بدأت السعودية تجميعهم على قناتها التلفزيونية («العربية»)، لخوض معركة إسقاط البلد في المزيد من اهتزاز الاستقرار.
يرفض سلامة القيام بالواجبات التي يفرضها عليه القانون، لأهداف سياسية. ينفّذ عملية انتحارية، سياسياً ووظيفياً. هي مهمته الأخيرة. وهو يدرك انها ولايته الأخيرة، وأن إكماله لها صعب جداً. وبناءً على ذلك، وعلى ارتباطاته الإقليمية والدولية، يحرص على انهيار الهيكل تماماً. لم يعد رياض سلامة خطراً على سلامة النقد والاقتصاد وحسب. وجوده في مصرف لبنان بات خطراً على الامن والاستقرار العام. إزاحته من موقعه يجب ان يكون الاولوية. ليست إقالته عملية سحرية ستنقذ البلاد من الانهيار فوراً. لكن التخفيف من حدة الانهيار مستحيل بوجوده. البلاد تحتاج اليوم لمن يسعى حقاً إلى تنقيذ القانون: «المحافظة على سلامة النقد اللبناني»، و«المحافظة على الاستقرار الاقتصادي». هاتان المهمتان ينفذهما من يشارك الحكومة في أي عمل إنقاذي، لا من يتآمر على البلاد وأمنها واستقرارها.

Libyan War, Syrian War And Qatar CrisisLIBYAN WAR, SYRIAN WAR AND QATAR CRISIS

06.07.2017 06.07.2017

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

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The war in Libya was caused not so much by any internal dissent but rather by the West’s need for continued economic expansion, which Western elites view as part and parcel of the post-Cold War “end of history”, a still-potent messianic ideology which gives the West the license to attack anyone, anywhere, to achieve its mercantilist objectives, and which gives the necessary humanitarian “fig leaf” for the benefit of the politically correct faction of Western societies.

Naturally, politically correct Westerners have been unbothered by the “humanitarian interventions” invariably making the situation far worse, and Libya has not been an exception. Since the fall of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya has not experienced any political, financial or even social stability, as the country is witnessing a state of constant fighting between all parties despite the absence of any religious or sectarian differences between the populations. Libya turned from one of the richest countries in the world to a failed state.

The current war in Libya began in 2014, with most of the fighting being between the internationally-recognized Tobruk-based Libyan Interim Government centered on the House of Representatives that was elected democratically in 2014, an Islamist National Salvation Government founded by the General National Congress based in Tripoli city, and the UN-backed Government of National Accord also based in Tripoli.

The Libyan Interim Government has the allegiance of the Libyan National Army under the leadership of General Khalifa Haftar and enjoys the support of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates directly, with indirect support from both the United States, Britain and Russia, with the latter country’s affinity to Haftar clearly demonstrated when the Libyan general boarded the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in January 2017, as the ship was returning home from its combat mission off the coast of Syria. It is a secular entity and has the sole legitimate power in Libya. Since 2014, Egypt has supplied many light and heavy weapons to the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, which included several MiG-21 fighters. The United Arab Emirates also provides financial support to Haftar and has a small airbase in eastern Libya, including AT-802 turboprop light attack aircraft and WingLoong UAVs which appear to be operated by Erik Prince’s Academi (formerly Blackwater) Private Military Company.

The emergence of the Libyan Interim Government was made possible by the withdrawal of House of Representatives support for the Government of National Accord, whose power has since greatly decreased.

Instead, the chief opponent of the LIG is the Islamic government of the General National Congress, also called the Salvation Government,  which is led by the Muslim Brotherhood with support from a coalition of Islamic groups known as the Dawn of Libya. It is believed that one of the combat groups of the General National Congress was involved in the assassination of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood are also accused of providing political cover to ISIS during its expansion in Libya before 2014, which is a plausible accusation considering Qatar’s tangible support to both ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood.

It too enjoys international support by Qatar, Turkey, and Sudan, with the former two countries playing roles identical to they played in the Syrian conflict.  Qatar’s considerable contribution includes financial support to the General National Congress and smuggling arms using C-130 military cargo planes in cooperation with Sudan, while Turkey has smuggled arms to the Dawn of Libya using ships. Turkey also benefits from illegal oil trade with the militia, according to unconfirmed reports.

Since 2014, ISIS has had strong influence in much of Libya, especially in Darnah east of Banghazi, but this influence of the terrorist organization has shrunk over time. However, Libya is one of the bases of recruitment and money laundering for ISIS, where ISIS is believed to have received indirect support from Turkey, Qatar and the General National Congress. Moreover, ISIS views Libya as an operating base from which to stage expansion into countries of the Sahel and to aid ISIS cells operating in Tunisia and Egypt.

Completing the list of warring parties, Tuareg forces control southwestern Libya, including Amazigh and Ghat area, and are considered indirect allies of the General National Congress.

Given the balance of forces outlined above, the conflict in Libya would have come to a close years ago had it not been for the direct involvement of the Qatar-Turkey alliance, whose aggressive acts against Syria had likewise escalated that conflict. To be sure, the Qatar-Turkey alliance was one of convenience, with the two parties pursuing different objectives which simply happened to be not mutually exclusive.

For Turkey, the aim of the game at the time was neo-Ottomanism. Both Syria and Libya are, after all, parts of the former Ottoman Empire, with the former being wrested from its grasp by the French and the British at the end of World War I, and the former falling to Italy in Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912. For Qatar, the objective was establishing oneself as a regional power player not only independent of Saudi Arabia but also equivalent to it, a task that would have been greatly facilitated by establishing Qatar-friendly regimes in Libya and Syria, extending Qatar’s control over the region’s hydrocarbons, and gaining access to new markets in Europe. That final point of the Turkey-Qatar strategy was welcome by European factions favoring continued eastward expansion because the Qatari gas pipeline could be used as a political weapon against Russia.

However, that coalition proved too weak to overcome the resistance of legitimate government forces in Libya and Syria, particularly after the direct Russian military involvement in Syria spelled the end of the “Assad must go” campaign, and it never managed to secure the support of the United States for either of its objectives. The US, for its part, attempted to sponsor its own jihadists in Syria or favored the Saudi-led efforts. Therefore it was only a matter of time before either Turkey or Qatar realized its strategy was doomed and sought to pursue a different course of action. Turkey proved the weaker link in that coalition thanks to, ironically, US enlistment of the Kurds as its proxy army in Syria. Faced with an impossible to dislodge Russian presence in Syria, Turkey opted to change its aims to become an “energy gateway” to Europe by joining forces with Russia in the form of the Turkish Stream pipeline.

Worse, while initially the West was generally in favor of any and all forms of “Arab Spring”, including the Turkish-Qatari efforts in both Syria and Libya, by 2016 it was becoming clear the downsides were outweighing the positives. The refugee crisis, in particular, that became a potent political issue threatening the unchallenged liberal status quo had forced a re-evaluation of the policy, lest the likes of Front National or AfD come to power in Europe. Even the US, which did not receive a flood of Middle East refugees, was affected.  On April 11, 2016, Obama was forced to admit that Libya was the “worst mistake” he had committed during his presidency as the mistake was that the United States did not plan for the post-Gaddafi era. He was not doing it because of any sorrow for the citizens of countries he despoiled, but rather because the resulting chaos was now negatively affecting Hillary Clinton’s chances to win.

But it was Donald Trump who delivered what surely will be a fatal blow to Qatar’s international ambitions, first by giving a green light to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to pounce on Qatar, and then directly accusing it of sponsoring terrorists. The ensuing blockade of Qatar meant that the country’s leaders would have little time or money to continue financing militants in Libya or Syria. Indeed, shortly after the Qatar blockade was imposed, the Russian military stated the war in Syria, other than the fighting against ISIS, had practically ground to a standstill.

Considering that Turkey and Qatar have been the main obstacles to ending the war in Libya, Turkey’s defection followed by the US-authorized Saudi political and economic assault on Qatar have implications not only for Syria but also for Libya. Indeed, there are already many signs the political situation in Libya is evolving. Arguably the biggest development in recent months was the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi’s son, by a Tobruk-based militia upon a request from the House of Representatives. With Saif al-Islam Gaddafi being wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged atrocities committed by the Libyan government during the 2011 war, the fact of his release indicates the political fortunes are now favoring the House of Representatives and Marshal Haftar, a shift also suggested by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s statements in support of Haftar playing  an important role in Libyan politics and the new French President Macron’s admission the war in Libya was a major mistake.

But here the Western officials seem to be following the trends rather than making them, as the root cause of the shift appears to be the sudden weakening of Qatar’s positions in the region. Egypt is a clear beneficiary of that weakening and is intent on pressing its advantage, to the point of pro-Sisi Egyptian media actually advocating bombing of Qatar. The Qatari disarray is also made apparent by LNA’s recent announcement that the Qatari opposition has provided the LNA with a list of Libyan citizens who worked for Qatar’s intelligence services.

Qatar’s situation is not an enviable one. For the time being Turkey’s military support and the US unwillingness to allow Saudi Arabia to utterly devastate Qatar are enough to allow it to maintain a brave face. But in the longer term it needs to find an accommodation with at least one of the key power players in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, US, or…Russia. The fact of growing Turkey-Russia cooperation on a variety of issues and Qatar’s outreach to Russia in the form of a foreign minister visit and the simplification of visa rules for Russian citizens, suggests that Qatar is at least contemplating realigning its alliance membership. However, considering that all of the three above-named powers are on the opposite side of the barricades as far as Libya is concerned, it seems unlikely Qatar can maintain its proxy war there even with Turkey’s support. Therefore, almost no matter what Qatar decides to do next, it will have no choice but to write off Libya as a total loss, an act that will hasten the end of this tragic six-year war.

Is Bashar al-Assad being too nice?

Saturday, 17 December 2016 06:26

By evacuating and pardoning terrorists, is Bashar al-Assad being too nice?

Contrary to Western fake news, Assad’s approach towards terrorists is deeply humane, some would say overly humane. Here is what we know and what must be answered.

Images of green bus convoys leaving Aleppo have provoked mixed reactions across the world. The coaches are filled with the surrendered terrorists who had occupied parts of East Aleppo prior to its liberation by the Syrian Arab Army.

Far from the fake massacres reported in the Western mainstream media, President Assad and his Russian partners are handling the situation in an utterly humane fashion, perhaps too humane. Assad’s rationale is that in order for Syria to once again be a peaceful and united country, as it was prior to 2011 when Western provocations triggered the current crisis, there needn’t be any Nuremberg style trials for the terrorists who continue to plague the country.

Assad has offered amnesty to any Syrians participating in terrorist activities in return for their pledge to lay down arms and permanently return to civilian life or join the fight against terrorism. He is also happy for the larger bulk of foreign fighters to peacefully leave the country, with many suggesting that  Turkey, knowing that her plans for regime change in Damascus have failed, will cooperate in this.

It is a safe assumption that many of the terrorists formerly operating in Aleppo will flee to Turkey, where they will no longer be Syria’s problem. Others may flee into ISIS controlled regions of northern Iraq and others yet may seek safe passage further abroad, to the terrorist paradise that is the failed state of Libya. But the danger for Syrians are the terrorists who stay in Syria.

The buses from Aleppo are heading for Idlib. There is a high probability that many terrorists from Aleppo will refuse to disarm and simply join the battle that other terrorist groups are currently waging in Idlib. This strikes one as a consequence of short-term thinking on the part of the Syrian government.

In a recent interview, Assad has stated that because of the finite resources of the Syrian Arab Army, one must understand occupied regions of the country as a set of descending priorities.

According to the Syrian President, Aleppo was the priority for obvious reasons. Its size, its location within Syria, its historical importance and its importance as a large urban centre for the region, all meant that Aleppo’s freedom was essential to secure first and foremost.

Assad’s second priority are regions on the outskirts of Damascus which continue to be occupied by terrorists. It is only after this that regions around Idlib, Palmyra and ultimately Raqqa will be dealt with.

All of this is totally logical, except for the idea that terrorist fighters should live to fight another day. The move is clearly one born of humanitarian concerns, but the question which necessarily follows is, why should anyone show mercy to terrorists who showed no mercy to their victims, and, furthermore, why should they simply be transferred to another region of Syria to do in Idlib or beyond, what they did to Aleppo?

These are questions which Syria and her allies will ultimately have to address, either in a diplomatic forum or perhaps directly on the battle field as part of Assad’s long term solution to gradually eliminate all terrorism from Syria. With Obama on his last legs and a seemingly cooperate Donald Trump on his way to the White House, the idea of meeting Obama’s America half-way in terms of sheltering Al-Nura/Al-Qaeda is becoming a non-issue.

The matter as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of all people said, is now in the hands of Syria, Russia and their allies. Terrorism cannot be tolerated in any form. This must be the long term and lasting message.

Adam Garrie

http://theduran.com/evacuating-pardoning-terrorists-bashar-al-assad-nice/

 

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

alibrahim56@hotmail.com

 

They Said About The President

US Aid to Israel Aids Who and Toward What End?

September 22, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Recently, the United States just renewed military aid to Israel in a decade-long, $38 billion deal – the largest of its kind in American history. It represents a significant increase in aid, roughly $3.8 billion a year – expected to be supplemented by additional assistance through US Congress – up from $3 billion per year previously.

The Atlantic in an article titled, “Why Does the United States Give So Much Money to Israel?,” attempted to explain the reasoning behind the otherwise unreasonable and unprecedented assistance by claiming:

Defenders of the deal would say it’s necessary. Dalton described the uptick in spending as a natural extension of the long-standing relationship between the United States and Israel, “as well as close ties between those countries and their peoples.” She described the “fraught neighborhood” surrounding Israel: war-torn Syria to the northeast, Hezbollah-influenced Lebanon to the north, and an Islamist insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai to the south, all of which help explain the historically high promise of $5 billion in missile funding over the next 10 years.

However, experienced geopolitical analysts will point out that the United States does not have “friends,” “allies,” or “relationships” – only interests and those who serve them. And while the Atlantic attempts to explain the deal as a means of maintaining a “relationship,” it and other publications admit that there are “strings attached.” If examined carefully, these strings reveals just what interests this supposed “relationship” serves.

CNBC would say just that in its article, “Big US military aid package to Israel has strings attached,” claiming:

…it’s structured so that more Israeli defense spending goes to U.S. companies. Israel’s long-standing special arrangement for funds from the United States previously allowed Israel to spend 26 percent of the money in Israel — on Israeli-made defense products. But that provision is being phased out over the first five years of the deal.

In other words, the ten year, $38 billion aid package is first and foremost welfare for US defense contractors, not Israel whose own defense spending adds up to $16 billion per year – dwarfing annual US “aid.” The deal is to encourage further Israeli dependency on America – dependency that lends Washington further leverage over both Israel and the region.

The purpose of aid and those who have arranged it on both the Israeli and American sides of the negotiating table is to continue directing Israel’s domestic and foreign policy to suit America’s interests, not the Israeli people’s. An Israel at peace with its neighbors in a stable Middle East and North Africa is an Israel that negates the supposed need of a US presence in the region. It also negates the need for such extravagant defense spending in both Israel and the United States.

CNBC would also reveal that the new assistance package would include provisions making it difficult for Israel to lobby for additional spending unless war broke out. Considering the track record of various Israeli regimes, does one suppose this is an incentive for Israel to avoid conflict, or actively seek it out?

In every way the aid deal is meant to perpetuate unpopular regimes, unpopular and inhumane policies, as well as perpetuate conflict and human misery. The role the US plays in “stabilizing” the Middle East is revealed instead as a constant conspiracy to overturn it.

US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – Trifecta of Conflict and Instability 

The only other nation in the Middle East sowing as much conflict and instability as Israel’s current regime is Saudi Arabia. It has flooded Iraq and Syria with militant groups triggering years of devastating war as well as directly launched an extensive air and ground war against neighboring Yemen.

Saudi Arabia – like Israel – is the recipient of extensive US backing. While the US made history by granting Israel unprecedented foreign aid, it sealed with Saudi Arabia recently an equally historic and unprecedented weapons deal amounting to some $60 billion – a single deal significantly larger than the 10 year aid package the US is providing Israel.

Israel’s Haaretz would report in its article, “U.S. Announces $60b Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia, Says ‘Israel Doesn’t Object’,” that:

The United States plans to sell up to $60 billion worth of military aircraft to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. State Department announced on Wednesday in a move designed to shore up a region overshadowed by Iran. 

Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told a news conference the U.S. administration did not anticipate any objections to the sale from Israel, traditionally wary of arms sales to nearby Arab countries. 

Indeed, Israel does not object to US weapon deals with Saudi Arabia. Despite feigned adversity between the two regimes, the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia work in tandem toward a singular regional vision with very few points of contention and with the common denominator being the way each nation’s role enhances their joint sponsor – the United States – and its hegemony over the region.

It is then not surprising to see US-funded Israeli forces defending Saudi subsidized terrorists on the Golan Heights coordinating violence against Syrian forces throughout the destructive, ongoing Syrian conflict.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, which does not exist as a functioning legitimate nation-state beyond its petrodollars and its US-backed military power, Israel does possess the economic infrastructure and human capital to transition into a functioning, independent nation-state – if only its population can overcome the engineered strategy of tension that has ensnared it for decades and the regime behind it.

The United States’ $38 billion is to ensure that regime remains in power for another 10 years, the strategy of tension continues to play out, and the Israeli people, as well as their neighbors are denied any opportunity to live in peace and move forward in progress for another decade to come.

Rather than underwriting Israel’s security for the next decade, the US is ensuring Israel struggles under another 10 years of uncertainty, perpetually impending war, all while its regime continues to partner with neighboring regimes – including Saudi Arabia and Turkey – to undermine regional stability and further threaten the future of the Israeli people and the survival of the Israeli nation.

The Israeli regime’s signing of yet another compromising, dependency-inducing aid package with the United States is proof once again that Israel’s own government constitutes the Israeli nation’s worst enemy.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Lebanon Busts Militant Training Cell in North

Local Editor

General SecurityGeneral Security has recently uncovered a militant network which used a religious school in north Lebanon as a front to operate, The Daily Star website quoted As-Safir newspaper as reporting Saturday.

The report said the network, located somewhere in Akkar, was directed by militant Omar Al-Satem who lives in Syria’s Raqqa – ISIL’s stronghold.

The school was used to train militants and recruit teenagers to join ISIL.

Citing unnamed security sources, the report added that five members of the cell were arrested who were accused of sending their recruits to Raqqa to join ISIL.

Other recruits left home to carry out “terrorist operations,” the report added.

It did not specify in what town in the north the school was located, or when it was uncovered.

The report also said General Security separately arrested a Syrian man who admitted to plotting a suicide attack under the direction of Satem.

Lebanese Army Arrests Three Terrorists in Various Areas    

The Directorate of Lebanese Army Guidance has issued on Saturday the following communiqué: In the wake of stringent security measures implemented by the army all over the country, Army Intelligence operatives have arrested in Baalbek Omar Ahmad Awad on suspicion of gun running of weapons and ammunitions to a terrorist group and connecting with a Syrian terrorist nicknamed “Abu Malek” and other dangerous terrorists wanted by the army.

Elsewhere in Baabda, Lebanese Army soldiers have arrested Ibrahim Mohammad Ezzeddine for belonging to a terrorist group and for supplying them with food and fuel.

Also Mohammad Sheikh from Wadi Khaled extraction has been arrested in Tripoli by Lebanese Army soldiers on charges of affiliation to a terrorist group and for gun-running of weapons and ammunitions for the same group.

Source: Websites

09-04-2016 – 19:45 Last updated 09-04-2016 – 19:45

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Saudi Arabia turns on Lebanon for its unfaithfulness and lack of gratitude after decades of largesse

After pouring billions into rebuilding the country following successive Israeli invasions and air raids, the Saudis find that they cannot prevent the Shia from expressing their fury at Riyadh

If you drive from Sunni Muslim Sidon to Shia Muslim southern Lebanon, you can travel from Saudi Arabia to Iran in 10 minutes. Sidon – like Lebanon’s other great Sunni majority city, Tripoli – has always basked in the favour of the Saudi monarchy.

The south, with its mass of Hezbollah fighters – armed and paid for by Tehran, its “martyr” photographs plastered across the walls of every village – has long been a lung through which Saudi Arabia’s Iranian enemies breathe. But now Saudi Arabia, blundering into the civil war in Yemen and threatening to send its overpaid but poorly trained soldiers into Syria, has turned with a vengeance on Lebanon for its unfaithfulness and lack of gratitude after decades of Saudi largesse.

  After repeatedly promising to spend £3.2bn on new French weapons for the well-trained but hopelessly under-armed Lebanese army, Saudi Arabia has suddenly declined to fund the project – which was eagerly supported by the US and, for greedier reasons, by Paris. Along with other Gulf states, Riyadh has told its citizens not to visit Lebanon or – if they are already there – to leave. Saudi Airlines is supposedly going to halt all flights to Beirut. Lebanon, according to the Saudis, is a centre of “terror”.

What prompted all this spite was a ferocious attack on the House of Saud by Hezbollah’s chairman, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose battalions are fighting and dying alongside Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers in Syria and killing the Islamist rebels who share a Sunni Wahabi faith with the Saudis.

After pouring billions into Lebanon for decades – rebuilding the country after successive Israeli invasions and air raids – the Saudis find that they cannot prevent the Shia, whose government representatives include Hezbollah party members, from expressing their fury at Riyadh, especially after the Kingdom chopped the head off the popular and learned Saudi Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr. Why, the Saudis say, did Lebanon not even join in the chorus of condemnation against Iran when Saudi diplomats were assaulted in Tehran?

Bahraini Sheikh Jaffer al-Alawi speaks during a protest held in Beirut, against Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr’s execution by Saudi authorities, in January (Getty)

The Saudis will probably regret this assault. Pulling Lebanon’s financial magic carpet away opens the country up to other “friends”, not least Iran which, according to the latest Beirut reports, would be happy to fund the Lebanese army to the tune of £7bn – providing, of course, the newly purchased weapons come from Tehran, and not from Paris.

The Americans and the British, desperate to prop up the secular Lebanese army with enough weapons to protect the country from Isis – which briefly took over the north-eastern Lebanese town of Ersal and still holds nine Lebanese soldiers captive – are pleading with the Saudis to keep their original £3.2bn promise.

But this latest crisis since the last greatest crisis in the drama of Lebanon – which currently has no president and no proper functioning parliament and not even a rubbish collection – is not without its own unique comedy.

 Protests follow execution

Saudis will find no problem in abandoning Saudi Airlines’s lacklustre hospitality en route to Beirut in favour of the infinitely more luxurious aircraft of Emirates Airlines. And warnings of “terror” are not going to stop Saudis desperate for the fleshpots of the Levant from travelling to Beirut once the temperatures boil up in the streets of Riyadh and Jeddah.

The nightclubs and high-class sex workers of Lebanon will not fall victim to the aggressive politics of the Kingdom’s young and newly powerful princes. And then there is the unfortunate case of “Prince Captagon”, the Saudi royal family member still in a Lebanese prison for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs on to his private jet at Beirut airport last year.

The moment he was arrested, the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon called up the Lebanese foreign minister and haughtily announced that his immediate release was a “political” imperative.

 The Sunni Lebanese Future Movement’s leader and former Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, is a Saudi citizen – as was his assassinated ex-prime minister father Rafiq – and is now quite taken aback by the wilful actions of a nation to which he has always given as much allegiance as he has to Lebanon. The Future Movement, it seems, did not try hard enough to ameliorate Lebanon’s official criticism of Saudi Arabia in the Arab League and should have prevented Hezbollah from destabilising Yemen and Bahrain – even though there is no physical proof that either Hezbollah or Iran have actually been involved in the Yemeni war or the Shia revolt against the Bahraini autarchy, where a Sunni king rules over a Shia majority.

Needless to say, the Sunnis of Tripoli are issuing proclamations of their undying gratitude to the Saudi royal family for the ceaseless flow of dollars which has smothered them in years gone by.

Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, the head of Hezbollah’s Shariah Council, insisted that it was the Saudis who should apologise to Lebanon which “has always been on the side of the Arab nation”. The country, he said – and this was a prim way of alluding to the Saudis’ abiding interest in the sleazier side of Lebanon’s entertainment industry – was “not a farm for the al-Saud family and others”. But the Hezbollah have their own sniffy way of reacting to insults.

 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is taken aback by the actions of Saudi Arabia (EPA)

“Spontaneous” Shia protest demonstrations  were held in the southern suburbs of Beirut when a local television station lampooned the unassailable Sayyed Nasrallah. A cartoon had depicted the Hezbollah leader proclaiming his total and absolute denial of all Iranian influence – until a hand marked “Iran” appeared from the left-hand side of the screen, at which point the cartoon Nasrallah slobbered all over it.

 The sad truth is that the Saudis are publicly praised and secretly reviled across the Muslim Middle East because they are very rich and most of their fellow Arabs, comparatively, are very poor. Generous the Saudis have been – propping up their favourite political causes, constantly repairing Lebanon, building hideous new mosques in Bosnia and spending in the casinos of Europe – but open-minded they are not.

No wonder some in Beirut are asking whether, crushed by the collapse of oil prices, the cost of its Yemeni adventure and facing a lake of poverty among its own people, Saudi Arabia isn’t simply running out of money. In which case, a newly desanctioned Iran would be happy to take the monarchy’s place as the financial saviour of Lebanon – as well as play the new policeman of the Middle East, courtesy of the US. Strange, isn’t it, that the name “Israel” hasn’t once popped up in this saga?

Weapons-Loaded Vessel Seized in Greece Belongs to Three Lebanese Nationals

E. al-Rihani

Cookie Boy vessel Turkish media outlets reported three days ago that Greek Coast Guards has confiscated a vessel loaded with weapons, that has departed from the Turkish city of Izmir and was heading to Lebanon.

Al-Manar TV learned that the vessel, raising the flag of Togolese Republic off Rodos island, belongs to three Lebanese nationals who reside in north Lebanon.

Turkish mass media stated that the vessel, named Cookie Boy, has moved from Izmir port on Feb. 4 and stopped for several days in the Mediterranean sea, which raised the concerns of coastal guards in Greece who drive it by force to Crete island.

Upon searching it, weapons and ammunitions were detected, 11-crew member have been arrested, including 6 Syrians, 4 Indians and a Lebanese.

Greek authorities opened investigation to uncover the case.


Original Report in Arabic by Zeinab Naji

 

Source: Al-Manar Website

03-03-2016 – 15:28 Last updated 03-03-2016 – 15:28

 

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Syria: A Turkish-Saudi Countermove In Lebanon Threatens Latakia (Updated)

Updated below

Fabrice Balanche is a French professor and a specialist on Syria’s political geography. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute (formerly WINEP) which is part by the U.S. Zionist lobby. So far the writings of Balanche for WINEP have been rather sane, neutral analyses.

In a piece published on February 5 he looked at the situation after the Syrian campaign cut the northern insurgency supply line to Turkey. At the end Balanche muses about possible countermoves by the Turkish and Saudi supporters of the insurgency:

Yet Turkey and Saudi Arabia may not remain passive in the face of major Russian-Iranian progress in Syria. For example, they could set up a new rebel umbrella group similar to Jaish al-Fatah, and/or send antiaircraft missiles to certain brigades. Another option is to open a new front in northern Lebanon, where local Salafist groups and thousands of desperate Syrian refugees could be engaged in the fight. Such a move would directly threaten Assad’s Alawite heartland in Tartus and Homs, as well as the main road to Damascus. Regime forces would be outflanked, and Hezbollah’s lines of communication, reinforcement, and supply between Lebanon and Syria could be cut off. The question is, do Riyadh and Ankara have the means and willingness to conduct such a bold, dangerous action?

Some Turkish, Saudi or CIA strategist may have had the same thought, or may have taken up Balanche’s idea:

Cargo ship from Turkey full of weapons seized by Greek authoritiesAccording to Greek and Turkish sources, a cargo ship containing thousands of weapons, ammunition, and explosives was seized by Greek authorities on February 28th. The ship– sporting a Togo flag– had reportedly left a Turkish port in Izmir and was traveling to Lebanon as well as the southeastern African coast.

The above source is not always reliable, but Elijah J. Magnier, reporting from Syria for the Kuwaiti paper AL RAI, just confirmed the news:

Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
#BreakingNews: Fuelling Lebanon?
#Greece arrest crew of a ship 6 #Syria/n, 4 #India/n 1 #Lebanese carrying weapons from #Turkey to #Lebanon.The ship was carrying 6 containers of which 2 full of weapons designated to a harbour in #Lebanon, intercepted at #Greece Crete #Island.

Very alarming indeed & shows a possible escalation planned n #Lebanon when the #SaudiArabia / #Hezbollah/#Iran relationship is at its worse.

This indicates that #Lebanon is no longer outside the circle of the war in #Syria and is supposed to be dragged in

It is unlikely that this is a purely Turkish operation. The Saudis do have enormous influence in Lebanon due to their frequent bribes paid to the various actors there. The general Saudi influence is now somewhat diminished. None of the major Lebanese followed the Saudi’s demand to take its side and to seek conflict with Syria or Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shia party that supports the Syrian government. But there are still groups in Lebanon, especially Salafis, which the Saudis essentially command.

A few weeks ago a Saudi prince was imprisoned in Lebanon after being caught loading two tons of amphetamine Captagon pills onto his private plane. There are also rumors that the Saudis recently found a video which showed Hizbullah operators training Yemeni Houthis in intelligence matters. This was seen as a direct attack on Saudi interests. The Saudis cut $4 billion of Saudi paid French weapon aid they had promised to the Lebanese military. A week ago they warned all their citizens to leave Lebanon.

The now caught ship is likely the result of Saudi and Turkish cooperation. The idea is reckless as it could throw Lebanon back into the terrible years of the Lebanese civil war. But the idea is also very bold which lets me believe that its origin is neither Saudi nor Turkish.

The weapon ship may not have been the only or the first one. It is quite possible that some weapons have already reached the Sunni quarters of Tripoli in north Lebanon. In 2012 some fierce fighting erupted between the Alawite enclave in Tripoli and some Sunni neighborhoods. Then the Lebanese army intervened to calm the fighting down.

With weapons for some 10,000 men and lots of dollars to pay them, a serious threat to the soft underbelly of Syria could be implemented within a few weeks. An attack from the Tripoli area northward into Latakia would open a new dangerous front against the Syrian government. Hopefully the Syrian government and Hizbullah are prepared to squelch such a campaign in its infancy.

Update:

Stratfor, a private U.S. intelligence service, distributed this claim today:

A Sunni politician in Lebanon tells Stratfor that the Saudi government wants to build a Sunni anti-Hizbullah militia by providing for Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.

bigger

The sourcing is fishy – “According to a Sunni politician …  Saudi Arabia is reportedly …”. Why does Startfor need a politician to tell them that something is “reported” somewhere. Why not source to the original report?

Is this all a “Plan B” head fake to gain some leverage for negotiations? Or is this a real program?

Posted by b on March 1, 2016 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

Syrian Jihadist Groups Take Conflict

 

Lebanese soldiers carry the coffin of Sergeant Ibranim Zahraman during his funeral in the town of Akkar northern Lebanon, Feb. 2, 2013. Soldiers and gunmen were killed in clashes in the country’s Bekaa Valley on Friday after militants attacked a Lebanese army unit, security sources said. (photo by REUTERS)

Read in Arabic
On Friday, Feb. 1, the Lebanese army lost two soldiers, a sergeant and a captain, who were part of a strike force unit that belonged to Lebanese Army Intelligence. The two soldiers died during a clash between the army unit and armed Sunni fundamentalists in ​​Arsal, which is near the Syrian border in the Bekaa Valley. That incident has many political and security dimensions and it confirms, as Al-Monitor has been reporting, that Jabhat al-Nusra is now in Lebanon and that the group’s activities are about to become public.

Lebanese military sources said that two days before the incident, the Intelligence Directorate of the Lebanese Army received information that Khalid Ahmed Hameed, who is wanted by the Lebanese judiciary, came to the town of Arsal from Syria, where a civil war has been raging for about two years. The sources said that Hameed is suspected of kidnapping seven Estonian citizens in the Bekaa on March 23, 2011, as they were riding from Syria to Lebanon on bicycles. There were held at an unknown destination for 111 days, before being released under mysterious circumstances as a result of secret negotiations between French security agencies and the intelligence arm of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, which is close to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The Lebanese official sources said that Hameed is suspected of being one of the field assistants of Hussein al-Hujairi, who is believed to be the kidnapping’s mastermind. The Lebanese government also received Western security reports raising the possibility that Hameed is linked to jihadists belonging to al-Qaeda in Iraq and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Hameed is also suspected of being involved in the shooting incident against the Lebanese army in Arsal on Nov. 22, 2011, to prevent an army patrol from arresting a Syrian jihadist named Hamza al-Qarqour.

Based on the above information, an elite strike force unit belonging to army intelligence went to Arsal to ambush the suspect and arrest him. The operation started around noon on Friday but the arrest operation was interrupted by an exchange of gunfire between the soldiers and the suspect, thus revealing the ambush to the jihadist groups residing in Arsal.

Several press reports said that the town’s mosques issued calls for all gunmen to pursue the army unit and block its escape. In a short period of time, the Lebanese army unit found itself surrounded by hundreds of fundamentalists and jihadists. The long gunfight resulted in the killing of the army sergeant and captain and the wounding of eight soldiers. Although the jihadists knew that they were fighting Lebanese army soldiers, they captured the bodies of the two dead soldiers, as well as the wounded and the remaining soldiers and took them to Arsal’s main square in what looked like a jihadist ceremony that involved celebratory gunfire and other practices, according to Lebanese press reports.

Similar jihadist celebrations over the bodies of dead Lebanese army soldiers happened on at least two previous occasions. The first time was on the night of Dec. 31, 1999, in the mountainous region of Dinniyah in northern Lebanon, near the city of Tripoli. Back then, a jihadist group attacked a Lebanese army post in an attempt to start a Sunni fundamentalist insurgency in the region. The second time was on May 21, 2007, when a group of jihadists belonging to the Sunni organization Fatah al-Islam attacked a Lebanese army checkpoint at the entrance of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. Seven army soldiers were literally slaughtered in that incident.

Because of several factors, what happened on Friday in Arsal marked a dangerous turn in the confrontations between the Lebanese army and Sunni jihadist forces. First, the jihadist forces today have strategic depth that provides them with support, supplies and sanctuary. That strategic depth is represented by the Sunni jihadist groups that are fighting in the Syrian civil war against Bashar al-Assad. Second, the area where the incident took place is geographically linked to several dangerous areas. It is connected to the Damascus and Homs countryside, which is where an Al-Monitor research report predicted will be the main area of a Lebanese-Syrian war. It is also connected to the tense demarcation line between pro-Hezbollah Shiites in Baalbeck and Hermel and certain Palestinian armed locations. Those factors were not present during the incidents in Dinniyah and Tripoli, because they are not linked to the Syrian depth nor to Lebanese Shiite areas.

Another important factor is that the incident coincided with a series of Lebanese crises that were caused by a Sunni fundamentalist “awakening” in Lebanon, as a result of the Syrian events and Middle Eastern developments over the past two years.

Last week, just before the Arsal incident, the personnel of a Lebanese TV station were threatened with death if they didn’t cancel the planned showing of a comedy skit making fun of Salafist Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, who is from Sidon, southern Lebanon. The TV station and those responsible for the skit backed down and complied. Near Assir’s headquarters in Sidon, jihadist Palestinian groups are solidifying their presence in Ain al-Hilweh camp, which is adjacent to Sidon and is Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp. Meanwhile, the northern city of Tripoli is still reeling from the recent attempted assassination of Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami by Sunni jihadist elements.

According to Lebanese cabinet ministers, those who tried to assassinate Karami have threatened Lebanese security forces about trying to arrest any of their members. Thus, the Lebanese authorities have been unable to arrest suspects involved in an incident that happened in broad daylight and in front of the cameras. In addition, the top mufti of the Sunnis in Lebanon recently issued in Beirut a fatwa, or religious edict, deeming any Muslim who supports the passage of a civil marriage law to be an apostate and outside of Islam.

So it seems that the four dimensions — the South, the Bekaa, the North and Beirut — forming a perfect storm for Sunni jihadism in Lebanon are now set. What will be the result of that development? We are passing through a very dangerous phase, which should be closely monitored by Lebanon, the region and the West.

Jean Aziz is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Lebanon Pulse. He is a columnist at Al-Akhbar Lebanese newspaper and the host of a weekly political talk show on OTV, a Lebanese TV station.

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Minister Faisal Karame’s Convoy Under Attack, Five Bodyguards Injured

Local Editor

Vehicle on fire

Minister of Youth and Sports Faisal Karame’s convoy was subject to fire shots by anonymous persons who later tossed an Energa-type rocket at one of the minister’s vehicles, setting it on fire.

The incident, which took place while the convoy was passing through the Azmi Street roundabout in northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, resulted in the injury of five of Minister Karame’s bodyguards.

W300

Minister Karame said in a televised statement that he was not hurt from the gunshots, pointing out that this act aims at “shaking the country’s stability,” yet assuring that “we will not be dragged to a civil war in Tripoli.”

Elements of the Lebanese Army deployed in the region and around the Lebanese Youth and Sports Minister’s house in Tripoli and set a checkpoint there.

On another hand, Minister Karame told Al-Manar TV that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, PM Najib Miqati, and Parliament Speaker Nabil Berri condemned the attack in a phone call with him; while Head of the Loyalty of the Resistance Parliamentary Bloc MP Mohammad Raad called former Prime Minister Omar Karame and congratulated him on his son’s safety.

For his part, PM Omar Karame held a press conference Friday afternoon, in which he stressed that “we hold no grudge against anyone, we don’t accuse anyone, and we are certain that what happened was a mistake by some militants in that place.”

Karame called on “his supporters to be aware of the big responsibility that falls on us,” and pledged to “keep his vow no matter how the situation changed,” in indication to the former PM’s trust in the state’s roll.

PM considered that “the divine providence intervened to save Faisal Karame from a painful outcome.”

“We have passed through alot, we sacrificed with our blood for the sake of Lebanon’s unity, and we are always ready to present our blood so that the path of progress, development and peace continue,” he added.

Source: Al Manar TV
 

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Lebanon: Tal Kalakh Ambush Rocks Tripoli

Gunmen take position as one of them aims his rifle in Bab al-Tebbaneh neighbourhood, in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, during clashes On 5 December 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Stringer)
 

Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012
 

Four days after 21 Lebanese Islamists were killed as they crossed into Syria to fight alongside the opposition, clashes between Sunnis and Alawis in the northern city of Tripoli continue to spread and intensify.
 

On the morning of 4 December 2012, fighting broke out in Souk al-Qameh and Syria Street, quickly escalating from stabbings to the use of live rounds and the burning of shops after rumors spread of kidnappings by both sides.

Most of the city’s merchants immediately shut their doors as the army deployed into the hot areas, barricading those streets that connect Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh with Alawi Jabal Mohsen.

The confrontations reached a fever pitch in the early afternoon as attempts to contain the fighting failed. Clashes soon erupted across the line of demarcation between the two communities, spreading to al-Qubba, al-Mankubeen, and al-Hara al-Baranieh.

This in turn led to a large-scale displacement as people fled the violence and Lebanon’s second largest city was completely paralyzed due to sniper fire along one of its main thoroughfares.

News circulated that two of Tripoli’s influential sheikhs, Salem al-Rifai and Hussam al-Sabbagh, were busy trying to contain the clashes, with Islamist sources confirming that “no decision has been made by any group to escalate, and the crisis will end within a few hours.”


Two people were killed as a result of sniper fire – one each from Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen – and 20 people were injured, including two soldiers and a member of the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

By nightfall, LBC television reported an additional death by sniper fire as the clashes continued to intensify, with the army becoming more assertive in trying to maintain control.

The parents of the Islamists who have gone missing or died in Tal Kalakh were reported to be in touch with the International Red Cross and the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking them to intervene on their behalf with the Syrian authorities to get their sons back.

In response to Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Adnan Mansour’s request for help in returning the bodies of the dead Lebanese fighters, Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim said, “For humanitarian reasons, we are looking into the case, and we will later announce the necessary steps that must be taken to resolve the matter.”

Foreign ministry sources reported that the Syrian ambassador promised to seriously follow up on the issue, but he did not give any details as to how many were killed and how many were captured alive, and whether the government intended to release the latter.

In the meantime, the families of the 21 who were confirmed dead held funeral ceremonies as their last wills and testaments were circulated on social networking sites.

Their parting statements suggest that they went to Syria to participate in jihad and that most of them identify as Salafis influenced by sheikhs who are close to the militant Islamist group, Fatah al-Islam.

“What can be confirmed,” Islamist sources told Al-Akhbar, “is that they went to Syria secretly, without notifying their families,” pointing out that “most of their parents are religiously conservative or Islamist, but did not agree with their children going to Syria.”

The reason for this, these sources added, is that in the view of many of the parents, “The idea of jihad in Syria is still unclear and hasn’t been fully developed. Some even viewed it as participating in a fight between Muslims and should be rejected.”

“Most of the sheikhs, including the Salafi ones, do not encourage fighters going to Syria to support the opposition at this time. They prefer that they stay in Lebanon in order to prepare for the decisive battle that will take place here, which is unlikely to happen until after the Syrian regime is toppled,” the sources added.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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A Day of Sectarian Violence in Lebanon


I feel obligated to write about this because all – ALL – Western media are complicit in the propaganda campaign of the pro-Saudi coalition known as March 14 (which is identified as “pro-Western” regardless of the prominent membership of Jihadi Salafis). What followed after the assassination of Wissam al-Hassan (head of a sectarian intelligence apparatus founded by the Hariri family on behalf of Saudi intelligence) is yet to be reported in the Western press. This is a story in which far-right Zionist media, Israeli media, and the Economist, the Guardian, the New York Times and Fox News all sound the same. If you are conspiracy-minded, you would think that they all receive their marching orders from the same source.

Basically, the Hariri militia all over Lebanon took to the streets and began a campaign of sectarian killings and beatings. They were bent on seeking revenge for the assassination of their sectarian intelligence chief: they know that they can push because the Lebanese prime minister is weak and is desperate for Saudi approval. They also took advantage of Hezbollah restraint: they know that Hezbollah is avoiding an all-out sectarian civil war, as much as the clients of Saudi Arabia are pushing for it.

What happened in Tripoli has become predictable: Salafi armed thugs habitually resort to shelling the predominantly-Alawi Jabal Mohsen because they know that they can get away with it. The armed groups of Tripoli are known as tools of the same intelligence apparatus that was headed by Wissam al-Hassan.



So, who wants civil strife in Lebanon?

The Tripoli Salafis include Bin Ladenites, but their presence is not acknowledged by the Western press, although al-Qaeda flags were on prominent display in the days of sectarian violence this past week. Western media still insist on ignoring the evidence of Bin Ladenites among the March 14 movement, just as they have succeeded on insisting that there are no Bin Ladenites among the gangs of the Free Syrian Army. The Alawis of Jabal Mohsen (a mere 5 percent of Tripoli’s population) used to be empowered by the presence of the Syrian regime army, but now have no support among the Lebanese population. In the Lebanese system of sectarian ranking, Alawis rank very low on the scale. The Alawis are sitting ducks and no one speak on their behalf. They are merely a step above the rank of Kurds and Gypsies and foreign maids.

‘al Qaeda-Hariri gunmen fighting the Lebanese National Army’

But the militia of Hariri also struck in Beirut. They made their presence known in various Sunni neighborhoods and starting shooting at the Lebanese Army. The weak Lebanese Army arrested two Palestinian boys and said that they alone were responsible for the mayhem in Beirut. The Lebanese Army announced their names and nationality because they don’t dare arrest any member of the Hariri militia. The last refuge of all Hariri politicians is sectarian agitation and mobilization. The arrest of any of their armed thugs would have immediately led to cries of sectarian persecution and the Saudi government would have issued a statement.

In Naameh, thugs of the Hariri movement stopped cars and asked whether passengers were Sunni or Shia. Those who were Shia were stopped and severely beaten. Scores of people were killed or injured. Yet, the New York Times’ coverage talked about conflict “spilling into Lebanon” without naming names and without identifying the killers. In fact, the New York Times coverage made it seem as if the Syrian regime was behind the shootings in Lebanon. The narrative can’t deviate from the simple one-track line of US media propaganda.

Future MP Oqab Saqr Funds, Arms, Kidnaps in Syria

To be sure, all Lebanese sides are involved in the Syrian conflict, but none are as involved as the Hariri faction. Saad Hariri had to acknowledge last week that his assistant, Oqab Saqr, was involved in Syrian opposition affairs, but he implied that his work is… purely charitable.

The scene in Lebanon this past week was part of the legacy of Wissam al-Hassan. When the Hariri militia fled the scene on 7 May 2008, the Intelligence Branch of al-Hassan relied on an alternative scenario.

They increased their sponsorship of Salafi and Bin Ladenite groups in Lebanon.

A friend of al-Hassan, Wiam Wahhab (a pro-Syrian regime politician with little popular support), appeared on TV and said that al-Hassan told him that his visit with Petraeus last month dealt exclusively with the Tripoli-based armed Salafi groups. These are now the orphans of Mr. al-Hassan.

The Lebanese Army intervened but only after the blood was shed and the sectarian lines in the sand were drawn with fire. The Hariri movement has a long history of recklessness and brinkmanship. But the restraint of Hezbollah has worked in the latter’s favor thus far. That may change soon and that could not possibly be in their favor, or even in the favor of their allies in Syria.

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The Wrong Way to Change the Government

The leadership of the Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party called upon their constituents to come out in large numbers without raising the possibility of any further escalation. (photo: Haytham alMoussawi)
 

 

Published Monday, October 22, 2012
 

After it appeared that the Lebanese government was on its way out – with Prime Minister Najib Mikati suggesting on Saturday that he would resign – the ministers’ moods changed completely after March 14 protesters attempted to storm the government’s main headquarters in downtown Beirut.

The protesters had gathered on Sunday in Beirut’s central district to bury former head of the Internal Security Forces’ (ISF) Information Branch Wissam al-Hassan, who was killed in a car bombing on Friday afternoon.

Many ministers are now predicting a new lease on life for the government, saying that March 14 handed them this gift “on a silver platter,” due to the violent turn that the funeral took on Sunday.
 

Mikati was in high spirits by the end of the weekend after receiving calls from the UN general secretary as well as from both the US secretary of state and France’s foreign minister. The state department also declared than Hillary Clinton and Mikati had agreed on “the US providing assistance in the investigation into the assassination” of Hassan.


Echoes of such international reassurances for Mikati have even reached Saudi Arabia, which will be receiving the prime minister in the coming days as he arrives in Mecca to make his hajj pilgrimage to the holy site.

Lebanon’s Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani and head of ISF Ashraf Rifi also came out in support of Mikati. The mufti declared his opposition to bringing down the government by force, while the security forces – with the help of the army – defended the government headquarters and kept protesters away from Mikati’s home in Tripoli.

The Christian parties within the March 14 coalition were already beginning to talk about the composition of the new government after they heard reports that President Michel Suleiman was not eager to change the government until a credible alternative exists.

March 14’s Christian parties tried to act in a balanced manner on the eve of Sunday’s funeral: on the one hand, they wanted to mobilize the largest possible numbers; and on the other, they did not want to raise their demands beyond what their Future Party allies would accept.

“If [Future party leader] Saad Hariri chooses to resort to popular pressure to bring down the government, we will be with him; otherwise a large turnout will suffice and we will leave any ratcheting up of pressure for later discussions,” according to a March 14 activist.

On the the eve of the funeral, the leadership of the Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party called upon their constituents to come out in large numbers without raising the possibility of any further escalation.

By the end of the funeral, following some provocative speeches and media calls to attack the government’s headquarters, Christian protesters were at the forefront of those who charged the building, believing that the decision to do so was coordinated at the leadership level.

This was why Lebanese Forces and Phalangist flags and placards dominated the crowd that clashed with the security forces and army personnel protecting the government compound. Their party leaders were taken aback by the scene and called on them to immediately retreat. Phalange sources even claimed that their pictures and flags were used in the clashes even after their members withdrew from the scene.

For the Christian leadership in March 14, besieging the government headquarters is crossing a red line, due to the building’s significance in the eyes of their Sunni allies in the Future Movement. An attack of this kind is something that even Saad Hariri himself could not contemplate. This led to calls by virtually all March 14 leaders to pull back, while maintaining the goal of toppling the government.

Phalange Party sources say they are basing their actions on two constants: first, they will continue to demand that the government resigns and to call for the formation of a national salvation government, in accordance with what party leader Amin Gemayel told the president.

Second, “there is no truth behind the general view that Western diplomats asked Mikati to remain at the head of the government. Those ambassadors who were asked by the Phalange maintained that their priority is stability, not the government,” one Phalange leader insisted.

As for the Lebanese Forces, their calls center around demanding that the current government be replaced by one led by March 14, along with a refusal to negotiate with the March 8 parties on the composition of any new government before the current one resigns.

The Christians of March 14 are now asking themselves what will happen next, after their failed assault on the government headquarters. Even though they may not all agree on the imminent fall of the government, they are all seeking to take full advantage of Hassan’s assassination ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.

These are some of the views they share:

First, that the West is concerned about stability and could be convinced of keeping the government in place if it can keep its promises. However, March 14 also believes that the assassination of Hassan will make Mikati more beholden to Hezbollah, given the anger it sparked on Mikati’s home turf in the North.
Second, that Mikati benefitted from the assault on his office and managed to use it to maintain his position as prime minister. He also succeeded in gaining the support of Mufti Qabbani and Mufti of the North Malik al-Shaar, both of whom rejected evicting the government by force.

Third, March 14 will not return to the national dialogue roundtable, making changing the government a precondition for their future participation. In this matter, it appeared that they won over the president in backing such a stance.

Fourth, March 14 was hoping to evict the prime minister after having mobilized the street against him within 24 hours of Hassan’s assassination. There is, however, an unspoken concern among many in the coalition’s ranks that it may have wasted an ideal opportunity to do so, with the funeral giving the government a new lease on life instead of ending it as March 14 had hoped.

Hiyam Kossayfi is a journalist at Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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March 14 Military Wing Seizes Tripoli

Smoke billows in Tripoli’s Bab al Tabanneh neighbourhood during clashes with Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, in Jabal Mohsen area in northern Lebanon, on 22 October 2012. (Photo: AFP – Joseph Eid)
 

Published Monday, October 22, 2012
 

The violent reactions to the assassination of General Wissam al-Hassan, head of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch, have redrawn the political map of the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.

As soon as news of Hassan’s assassination spread on Friday, armed groups, including masked men, took to the streets. They shot their weapons towards the sky and demanded that shops immediately shut down. They burned tires in the streets and public squares and sealed off all the main roads into Tripoli, completely paralyzing the city.

Armed groups also attacked the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and Islamic Unification (Tawhid) Movement (IUM) headquarters, triggering 15 minutes of armed clashes before the army intervened to stop the fighting. Sheikh Abdul Razzaq al-Asmar from the IUM was killed in the clash.

The precarious and rapid security deterioration over the weekend brought back memories of the 7 May 2008 events when the March 8 coalition took over most of Beirut and demanded that Future Party’s offices be handed over to the army.

In the past two days, a decision was made and immediately enforced to give the Lebanese Army control of the SSNP and IUM headquarters in al-Jummaizat and Abi-Samra streets, respectively. The decision was made after an emergency meeting at North Lebanon Governor Nassif Qaloush’s office, which was attended by SSNP and IUM representatives.

Analysts say these latest developments clearly show how the military power scales in Tripoli have dramatically tipped since 2008 in favor of the opposition March 14 forces – with a new cocktail alliance of Islamists and groups loyal to Saad Hariri’s Future Movement.

Future managed to attract extremist Islamist forces to form a reliable alliance. In addition to the remnants of the well-known “regiments” in the city, the alliance managed to draw on zealous and mercenary Islamists, as well as Palestinian militants. Syrian opposition groups later joined, adding to its military power.

As of mid summer, the new Future-led alliance has engaged in 12 rounds of clashes around the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen area, where its gunmen gained “combat experience.”

Analysts say a lack of security and political coordination among the March 8 coalition also contributed to strengthening its rival alliance after the 2008 clashes. When the situation on the ground began to tip in favor of the March 14 team, it began to gradually gnaw at the clout of the March 8 camp in the city.

The Jabal Mohsen neigbourhood appears through a hole

With the decision to keep the SSNP and IUM under the army’s care, Jabal Mohsen becomes the only area in Tripoli outside March 14 military control. Snipers, mortar shelling, and other attacks on Jabal Mohsen continued throughout Saturday and Sunday, wounding four people.

Observers say this shift on the ground threatens the political diversity and pluralism the city has historically enjoyed as it gradually comes under the control of a single faction whose affiliations extend from the Future Movement to the Islamists and the Syrian opposition; groups that appear to be united by their common enemy more than a shared vision for the country.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
 

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It was only yesterday …

FLC

… that many in Lebanon, especially in 2006′ when Israel aggressed Lebanon, started saying that they have had it with Lebanon having to pay the dearest in lives & treasure in the Arab-Israeli conflict, …  

and even some went so far as asking the rhetorical question, “seriously, what did Israel do to us?”, totally discarding the monumental & many decades’ old plight of the Palestinian People, & the cruel history of Lebanon’s experience with that usurping huge settlement called israel…

Basically, they (Culture of Life) were saying that Lebanon is suffering economically from Israeli aggressions BUT mostly, from the insolence of ‘some’ (Culture of Death) who decided to stand up and resist. The sectarian schism between the ‘moderate pragmatists’ & the ‘insolent resisters’ saw the most major plates shift since the War on Iraq! 

TODAY, the SAME ‘moderate pragmatists’ who were all about ‘Lebanon First’, Love Of Life, reconstruction, business opportunities & ‘stability-uber alles’, have taken upon themselves to bring down the regime of a neighboring Arab country, even if that risked generating spasms of regional & sectarian clashes.

 
 
‘Life-Lovers in Tripoli’

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