President Lahoud to Al-Ahed: Liberation One of the Most Beautiful Days in My Life

Fatima Salameh

25-05-2018 | 08:49

It would not be a “Resistance and Liberation” holiday without hearing from him. He holds the title of the pro-resistance president and the “man” – described as such by the master of victory.

Emile Lahoud

His national and historic positions, which never abandoned the resistance, testify to that. The path of President Emile Lahoud, the nationalist, is full of honorable stances that carried Lebanon from the age of dependency to liberation. He defended the resistance before he knew them. It is enough that he is one of those who sought to liberate the land. The historic victory of 2000 was the pride of his reign and the result of his courageous positions that supported the path of Jihad at a time when the entire world stood against him. He was offered a lot in exchange for abandoning this path. He chose to work with conscience and in accordance with his convictions, which are not bought and sold.

In an interview with al-Ahed, President Lahoud recalls many stages, from his time as commander of the Lebanese army to the time he took over the presidency. His does not conceal his “joy” with the liberation of the land during his reign. He describes this event with pride. He tells how he learned about Hezbollah and its leader for the first time and how very proud he was of meeting him [the leader]. He often expresses his happiness that he is living in the time of the resistance fighters, who have returned Lebanon’s stolen dignity.

Emile Lahoud

Below is the script of the interview:

Eighteen years after liberation, what does President Emile Lahoud remember from that era?

It is the most beautiful day of my life. Before that date, there was no hope that we would be able to regain our dignity. Our land has been occupied for 22 years. All the officials who inherited the government were accustomed to this issue until it became obvious. Truthfully, I never heard of Hezbollah. When I took over as army commander, I was living in Rayak. The atmosphere was charged against Hezbollah. When I wanted to visit my family in the north, they used to send me telegrams asking me to be careful and watch out for Hezbollah members who intended to kill me. However, the teaching inside the house, which does not know a path of sectarianism, made me not interested in the matter, even though the picture in my mind drawn about Hezbollah is that it was a Takfiri group. When did I learn of Hezbollah? It was in 1991, when I took over the army command. A decision was issued by the Lebanese state to position the army in the South. I went to Tyre. One of the officers told me: “For 22 years, I was deployed here. I was a company commander and we received instructions that ‘if a militant is caught, we must hand him over to the intelligence services, who in turn will imprison him.’ You are a new army commander, what are your instructions for me in such a case?”

I asked him, what is their nationality, are they Palestinians? He said no, they are Lebanese who want to return to their villages, which are occupied by the “Israelis”, and they carry out operations against them. Sometimes we catch them before they arrive as they are on their way to the valleys. What do you want us to do in such a situation? I told him: “Lebanese who want to return to their villages that are occupied by the Zionists are resistance fighters. You have to support them.” He told me, “appreciated” and he rejoiced. It was the first time an officer thought in this way. ” To me, as Emile Lahoud, any nationalist army commander should not ask permission from anyone to issue such an order. Should I stand in the face of those who seek to liberate the land! On the contrary, I should be an absolute support for them.

Then I returned to Beirut and the President of the Republic, Elias Hrawi, told me:

“Emile are you crazy? You are supporting people who are causing trouble at the border. Tomorrow an “Israeli” soldier will be killed and [“Israel”] will attack all of Lebanon.” Do you want to ‘destroy’ Lebanon?

I told him:

“Have you ever heard of an army commander whose land is being occupied and he gives an order to his officers that whoever liberates the land should be imprisoned? We must support them. He told me: I give you an order to confront them. I told him: I will not obey.

In 1993, the resistance became stronger than before. The Zionists were annoyed and exerted pressure on the Americans, who in turn pressured the Lebanese state and the Security Council. The latter took a decision to get rid of Hezbollah. The Lebanese state at the time issued a decision. I remember an incident that took place at the time. Members of the army spoke to me. They told me that a Zionist tank bombed a Lebanese area and killed a woman. What do you want us to do? It was the first experience with “Israel”. I asked them: is there a Lebanese tank in range? They said yes. I said, what are you waiting for? Respond. At this point, the President of the Republic summoned me and told me: “Emile, what is happening? How could you do that and give an order to respond? I told him this is what I must do. He asked me more than once to eliminate Hezbollah with the support of the UNIFIL forces. I told him: You are not understanding me, I will not do it. He told me: ‘Tomorrow is the meeting of the Supreme Council of Defense and you have to attend.’ I said, ‘I will not attend.’ He replied, ‘then we will take the decision without you. Someone else will be the army commander.’ I told him: let him come. I am doing my duty and what my conscience tells me. The next day I came late to the meeting. I found them meeting with the UNIFIL commander. They designed a map for the elimination of Hezbollah. I told them: what are you doing? Fold this map. The commander of the UNIFIL forces replied: ‘they have taken the decision in the Security Council.’ I told him: let them take whatever they want. I will not comply. Let them bring another army commander to carry out what they want. What right does the Lebanese state have to order a national army to strike its people because the “Israelis” are annoyed?

Emile Lahoud

All this and you had no interaction with Hezbollah. When was your first direct contact with them?

After all these years, there was no contact between us. But there was absolute support on my part.

The first contact in which I got to know Hezbollah was in 1997 when I got a call saying that Hadi, the son of the Secretary General of the party, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, was martyred. I told them, this is the first time that an Arab leader presents his son as a martyr. I want to get to know him. Indeed, the measures were taken. I found him relaxed although the news of his son’s martyrdom was announced an hour before my visit. We spoke for about ten minutes as I consoled him. I felt that we would win and triumph with this leader. Days passed, and we did not meet. In 2000, at the time of the liberation, Sayyed Nasrallah asked me to meet him. So we met and he presented me with an “Israeli” rifle. After that, I never saw him until I left the presidency. At the time, we sat for about three hours and talked about everything. He told me, ‘I do not know you.’ I told him, ‘We met in good conscience.’

What does to Emile Lahoud that the land was liberated during his reign as you have always described this event with pride?

It means my dignity. I take pride in this event very much. I am glad that the dignity of the Lebanese had been restored during my days. Is it possible that the “Israelis” occupy our land for 22 years and no one is shaken. Only a handful of resistance fighters met and liberated the land and defended us. Without them, “Israel” would have been among us.

How did the liberation of the land contribute to your military experience?

We can achieve the impossible. Many asked me what I was doing. No one can resist “Israel”. I told them, you will see. The resistance is the immunity of Lebanon. I am surprised how some people speak after the conclusion of the elections on the need to disarm the resistance, after all that it has done! They certainly get money from their masters who incite them to do so.

How do you perceive the golden equation, which you supported early on?

Without the golden equation, Lebanon would no longer exist, especially after the events that took place in Syria and Iraq, which made Lebanon strong and able to stand up to “Israel”. Unfortunately, we did not learn that we must preserve it through national action and not through sectarianism.

Today, the Palestinians are doing all they can to liberate their land. What is your advice for them given the experiences with the liberation of Lebanese lands?
There is no talk with “Israel” except in the language of force. I do not want to criticize, but when I hear some Palestinian officials talking about the need for a settlement, this does not return the land. The solution is only by force, just as we did in Lebanon. Here, I recall an incident. At one of the closed summits of the Arab heads of state in Khartoum, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said ‘how can I possibly pay for the salaries for the ‘Strip’ when the Zionists are not allowing the funds to arrive. I ask you Arabs to mediate with the concerned parties to put pressure on “Israel” so that the money can reach us. I told him, ‘Abu Mazen, behave like we did in Lebanon. It is shameful to beg for our salaries. We have to attack them by force. If you acted like Lebanon, you will not be here right now.’

You have always said that the the crisis in Syria will conclude with a victory. How do you describe the situation seven years after the crisis started?

Syria triumphed. The losers including the Zionists and the Arabs are coveting a winning card. That is why they are pressing in the last quarter. But they will not triumph. The crisis will soon be over and with it the conspiring mentality in Lebanon will end.

A final word

How lucky we are that we have lived in the time of the resistance and the men who sacrificed themselves for the homeland.

Source: Al-Ahed

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Drones and Jets: The ‘Brazenness’ Belongs to Israel

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By Brenda Heard

“Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty,” stated Netanyahu on 10 February. “They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel.”

In response to this alleged reconnaissance drone, which the Israeli military characterized as a “serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory,” Israel promptly bombed twelve Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

A vagueness persists about the alleged drone. Iran stated the claim was “baseless” and “ridiculous.” The US called the drone “provocative.” Israel noted that it waited for the drone to enter its territory and “chose where to bring it down,” just ninety seconds later. Some sources indicate it was over Beit Shean, some say over the Golan. While the drone caused no damage, Israeli airstrikes killed six people.

At the Munich Security Conference a week later, Netanyahu underscored his indignation: “[Iran’s] brazenness reached new heights, literally new heights. It sent a drone into Israeli territory, violating Israel’s sovereignty, threatening our security. We destroyed that drone and the control center that operated it from Syria.” He then portrayed Israel as the innocent victim under threat, characterising the alleged drone as an “act of aggression.”

Talk about brazen.

Let us recall that in August 2014 it was Israel’s drone that was shot down in Iranian territory. While Israeli media reported that the “device looks like a kind of UAV used by the Israeli military,” all sources agree with Reuters’ observation: “Israel has always declined comment on such accusations.” ­Did the Netanyahu-labelled “tyrants of Tehran” respond as Israel has just done? Did Iran retaliate by sending fighter jets into Israel? Absolutely not. Instead, Iran did what it was meant to do as a cooperative member of the international community. It verbally  condemned the affront; it reported it to the IAEA (INFCIRC/867) and to the UN Security Council (S/2014/641). The IAEA merely circulated the complaint to member states, and the world ignored the brazenness of Israel.

Let us recall that in August 2011 it was a US drone that was shot down in Iranian territory. Somehow this was not “provocative,” but was rather, as then-current and former officials said, “part of an increasingly aggressive intelligence collection program aimed at Iran,” encouraged by “public debate in Israel.” This 2011 drone is even flaunted in current Israeli media, noting the US “initially denied the incident but eventually acknowledged the loss.” A bit brazen, wouldn’t you say?

Let us recall Israel’s unconscionable use of air power, including drones, over Occupied Palestine. Seen as “near continual surveillance and intermittent death raining down from the sky,” its decades-long aerial persecution of the Palestinians epitomises brazenness.

Lastly, let us recall Lebanon. Since the 1960s, Israel has routinely occupied Lebanese skies. This flagrant defiance of international law is a matter of record. Lebanon has issued numerous formal complaints with the UN—to no avail. Lebanese skies are violated virtually daily by a combination of helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft, and two, four or eight Israeli warplanes. They fly through all regions of Lebanon, including over UNIFIL territory, over Beirut, and over the Ba‘abda Presidential Palace. The Israeli overflights might just spy, or they might create sonic booms, or they might fire flares, or they might fly round-the-clock shifts so that there are always one or two Israeli aircraft in the skies of Lebanon. Or they might fly through Lebanese airspace to bomb Syria.

A recent UN Security Council Report states:

“Israel continued to violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis, in violation of resolution 1701 (2006) and Lebanese sovereignty. From 1 July to 30 October [2017], UNIFIL recorded 758 air violations, totalling 3,188 overflight hours, an increase of 80 per cent compared with the same period in 2016.”

This was, of course, despite the Security Council’s previously reiterated call for “Israel to cease immediately its overflights of Lebanese airspace.” But, then again, that call has been reiterated by the UN for decades. Extraordinary brazenness.

It has been argued that Israel should not be bound by Resolution 1701 because Hezbollah has remained armed. Such an argument is simply making excuses for Israel’s belligerent conduct. It should be noted that:

1)      UN Resolutions do not subscribe to the all-or-none approach; they specify obligations to each party separately. 

2)      Israeli overflights in Lebanese airspace are in direct violation of the 1949 Armistice, which forbids Israel to “enter into or pass through the air space” of Lebanon, clarifying specifically “for any purpose whatsoever.”

3)      Prior to the formation of the Hezbollah Resistance there were already 28 Security Council Resolutions condemning Israel’s aggressions against Lebanon. Since at least 1972—a decade before Hezbollah—UNSC Resolution 316 called onIsrael specifically “to desist forthwith from any violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon.”

4)      Resolution 1701 states that prohibitions on weaponry “shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL.”  This authorization is indeed expressed, as is custom, in the 2016 Ministerial Statement of the Government, which emphasises the right of Lebanese citizens to resist the Israeli occupation and to respond to its aggression. As President Aoun, a former Army General, explained: “Hizbullah’s arms do not contradict with the State and are an essential component of the means to defend Lebanon.”

With 552 violations of Lebanese airspace in 2016, Israel has exhibited extreme brazenness. With 805 violations in the ten months of 2017 that have been officially reported, Israel has surely forfeited the right to stand in judgement. Fifty years of consistent air violations in Lebanon and Palestine. And Netanyahu calls Iran “brazen” for ninety seconds?

_____________

Brenda Heard is author of Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. You can visit her website at FriendsofLebanon.org and also at InsideHezbollah.com

Americans to Lebanese: Give Up Half Your Right Before Negotiating!

Firas Al-Shoufi

10-02-2018 | 09:19

Once again, Washington wants to convince the Lebanese that it is an “honest mediator” between them and their enemy, which also happens to be the US’s closest ally. It offers them [the Lebanese] negotiations through the US. The ceiling of those negotiations requires the Lebanese to give up half of their maritime rights to waters that the enemy wants to put its hands on.

US Lebanon

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield’s visit to Beirut and the planned visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the Lebanese capital this month were only part of an integrated scene that began with the visit of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to the White House and his meeting with President Donald Trump last July.

According to ministerial sources monitoring the issue, Hariri made to understand from the Americans that the dossier of the maritime and land border dispute between Lebanon and “Israel” falls under the aegis of the US president’s adviser, son-in-law and businessman Jared Kushner.

It is no coincidence that Trump and the US administration have handed over a dossier of this importance to the president’s son-in-law – the Godfather of the “Deal of the Century” or the deal to terminate the Palestinian cause and replace Al-Quds [Jerusalem] with Abu Dis, while closing the refugee dossier. All this is in preparation for the signing of the Arab-Israeli peace agreement starting from Saudi Arabia and stretching beyond the Gulf.

According to the information, the Americans have since raised with Hariri the issue of the so-called “disputed points” between Lebanon and the occupying entity, on land and sea, and the willingness of the United States to act as a mediator to resolve outstanding issues and “help Lebanon extract oil”.

Hariri returned to Beirut and conveyed what he heard to those concerned, adding that “the relationship with Kushner is positive, and there are serious promises to help Lebanon”. The relationship between the two men has already developed due to efforts of Lebanese mediators in Washington. Without a doubt, Hariri’s detention in Saudi Arabia has brought him closer to the Americans, and he enjoys the cover that the US administration provides, as he is “an important partner for stability in Lebanon.”

However, talk of “American mediation” did not resonate well in Beirut. Based on decades of experience, the concerned Lebanese parties do not see a “fair” mediator in the Americans.

“The American mediations were only in the interest of “Israel” and at the expense of America’s Arab allies.” It is interesting to note, however, that the Americans do not pay much attention to the “disputed points” on land as much as they are concerned with the problem of determining the boundaries of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone and maritime borders that delineate oil and gas fields.

Satterfield explained this logic during his meetings with Lebanese officials in the past two days, emphasizing “the need not to worry about land points and pay attention to the maritime dispute.” He stressed that his country had officially informed “Israel” that the “border wall” should not be built in the disputed points with Lebanon.

In addition to Satterfield’s thinly veiled threats to the Lebanese of the possibility of “Israel’s” sudden bombardment of Lebanese sites, the American visitor focused on marketing the role of the United States in mediating between Lebanon and “Israel” to resolve the maritime dispute. According to the information, the “Israeli” entity even retreated from the so-called “Hoff Line”, the line that Ambassador Frederick Hoff worked to demarcate the Lebanese-Palestinian border. The “Hoff Line” gives Lebanon back about 550 square kilometers from the 860 square kilometers, separated by the points of dispute between Lebanon and the “Israeli” entity. These points are the so-called Lebanese Point 23 and the “Israeli” Point 1. The Israeli withdrawal from the Hoff Line means that the ceiling of the negotiations will see the Americans offer Lebanon the ability to define the line itself, especially since Satterfield spoke to Lebanese officials about the Hoff line as a “fair solution”. The acceptance by the Lebanese side of the “American offer” ahead of any negotiations, will lead to the loss of about half of the maritime area claimed by the enemy. The negotiation will be on the remaining Lebanese right under the pretext of “expediting the removal of the obstacles that prevent us from benefiting from oil and gas wealth.”

Although Satterfield tried to reassure the Lebanese that the role of the United States would not be at the expense of Lebanon, the impressions he left confirms that he wants to pressure Lebanon to give up this maritime area that the Lebanese are holding on to.

While the Lebanese officials stated a clear position on holding on to every inch of Lebanon’s area – land and sea – there are still differences of opinion regarding American mediation. There were those who emphasize the need to stick to the work of the UN-sponsored tripartite committee between the Lebanese and the enemy’s armies and to confine discussions within the committee. But there are those who advocate accepting and dealing with American mediation since the US role will be a guarantor of Lebanese rights based on Kushner’s promises to Hariri. For its part, ministerial sources said that “Kushner is now sidelined from a lot of dossiers within the US administration, but what is the problem in American mediation? If they presented us with an unconvincing offer, we can simply reject it.”

On the evening of February 8, Satterfield visited the President of the Republic Michele Aoun at Baabda Palace after touring the southern border with the General Director of the Lebanese General Security Major General Abbas Ibrahim and the Commander of the International Emergency Forces in the South of Lebanon [UNIFIL Commander-in-Chief] Michael Perry. They held a meeting at UNIFIL’s headquarters in Naqoura. Satterfield and US Ambassador Elisabeth Richard visited the Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, who stressed “the Lebanese position that rejects the attempt of this enemy to establish a separation wall that passes through reserved Lebanese territory.” Satterfield and Richard also visited the tomb of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in central Beirut.

Source: Al-Akhbar, Translated by website team 

لأميركيون للبنانيين: تخلّوا عن نصف حقّكم قبل التــفاوض!

عرّاب «صفقة القرن» يطلّ برأسه على بيروت
ساترفيلد: طلبنا من إسرائيل عدم بناء الجدار في النقاط المتنازع عليها (دالاتي ونهرا)
مرة جديدة، تريد واشنطن إقناع اللبنانيين بأنها «وسيط نزيه» بينهم وبين عدوّهم، حليفها الأوثق. تعرض عليهم التفاوض معه عبرها، وأن يكون سقف التفاوض التخلي عن نصف الحق اللبناني في الحقوق البحرية التي يريد العدو وضع يديه عليها
فراس الشوفي
لم تكن زيارة مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركي لشؤون الشرق الأوسط ديفيد ساترفيلد إلى بيروت، والزيارة التي من المقرّر أن يقوم بها وزير الخارجية ريكس تيليرسون منتصف الشهر الجاري إلى العاصمة اللبنانية، سوى جزء من مشهد متكامل، بدأ مع زيارة الرئيس سعد الحريري إلى البيت الأبيض ولقائه الرئيس دونالد ترامب في تمّوز الماضي.
فبحسب مصادر وزارية متابعة، سمع الحريري بوضوح من الأميركيين أن ملفّ الصّراع البحري والبري الحدودي بين لبنان وإسرائيل، سيكون في عهدة مستشار الرئيس الأميركي وصهره رجل الأعمال جاريد كوشنير. وليس من قبيل الصّدفة أن يُسلِّم ترامب والإدارة الأميركية ملفّاً بهذه الأهميّة لصهر الرّئيس، وهو عرّاب «صفقة القرن»، أو صفقة إنهاء القضيّة الفلسطينية واستبدال القدس بـ«أبو ديس» وإغلاق ملفّ اللاجئين، تمهيداً لتوقيع اتفاقيات سلام عربية ــــ إسرائيلية، تبدأ من السعودية ولا تنتهي في الخليج.
وبحسب المعلومات، فإن الأميركيين طرحوا مع الحريري منذ ذلك الوقت، مسألة ما يسمّى بـ«النقاط المتنازع عليها» بين لبنان وكيان الاحتلال، في البرّ والبحر، واستعداد الولايات المتّحدة للدخول كوسيط لحلّ الأمور العالقة، و«مساعدة لبنان لاستخراج النفط».
عاد الحريري إلى بيروت ونقل ما سمعه للمعنيين، مع الإضافة أن «العلاقة مع كوشنير إيجابيّة وهناك وعود جديّة بمساعدة لبنان»، وهي علاقة تطوّرت بالفعل بين الرجلين، بجهود وسطاء لبنانيين في واشنطن. وبلا شكّ، ساهم احتجاز الحريري في السعوديّة في تقرّبه أكثر من الأميركيين، وشعوره بالغطاء الذي تؤمّنه له الإدارة الأميركية بوصفه «شريكاً مهمّاً للاستقرار في لبنان».
إلّا أن الحديث عن «وساطة أميركية» لم يلقَ صدىً في بيروت، طالما أن الأطراف اللبنانية المعنيّة لا ترى في الأميركيين وسيطاً «نزيهاً» بناءً على تجربة عمرها عقود طويلة، «حيث لم تصبّ الوساطات الأميركية إلّا في مصلحة إسرائيل، وعلى حساب الدول العربية الحليفة لأميركا». غير أن اللافت أن الأميركيين لا يعيرون اهتماماً كبيراً للنقاط «المتنازع عليها» في البرّ، بقدر ما يهتمون بمشكلة تحديد حدود المنطقة الاقتصادية الخالصة للبنان وبالحدود البحرية التي ترسم حقول النفط والغاز.
هذا المنطق تحدّث به ساترفيلد خلال لقاءاته مع المسؤولين اللبنانيين خلال اليومين الماضيين، لا سيّما لجهة تأكيده «ضرورة عدم القلق من النقاط البريّة والاهتمام بالنزاع البحري»، مشدداً على أن بلاده أبلغت إسرائيل رسمياً بضرورة عدم بناء «الجدار الحدودي» في النقاط المتنازع عليها مع لبنان.
وعدا عن «شبه التهديدات» التي حملها ساترفيلد إلى اللبنانيين من إمكانية قيام إسرائيل بعمليات قصفٍ مفاجئة لمواقع لبنانية، انصبّ اهتمام الزائر الأميركي على تسويق دور الولايات المتّحدة في وساطة بين لبنان وإسرائيل لحلّ النزاع البحري.
 
 وبحسب المعلومات أيضاً، فإن كيان العدوّ، تراجع حتى عمّا يسمّى «خط هوف»، وهو الخطّ الذي عمل عليه السفير فريدريك هوف لترسيم الحدود البحرية اللبنانية ــــ الفلسطينية. و«خطّ هوف» يعيد للبنان حوالي 550 كلم مربعاً من مساحة 860 كلم مربعاً فصلها الاختلاف في النّقاط بين لبنان والكيان الإسرائيلي، بين ما يسمّى بالنقطة 23 اللبنانية والنقطة 1 «الإسرائيلية». التراجع الإسرائيلي عن «خط هوف» يعني أن الأميركيين سيعرضون على لبنان تحديد الخط نفسه كسقف تفاوضي، وخاصة أن ساترفيلد تحدّث أمام مسؤولين لبنانيين عن «خط هوف» بصفته «حلاً منصفاً». وسيؤدي قبول الجانب اللبناني بـ«العرض الأميركي»، وقَبْل بدء أي مفاوضات، إلى خسارة نحو نصف المنطقة البحرية التي يزعم العدو ملكيته لها، والتفاوض على ما تبقى من حق لبناني، بذريعة «الإسراع في إزالة العقبات التي تحول دون استفادتنا من ثروة النفط والغاز».
ومع أن ساترفيلد حاول طمأنة اللبنانيين إلى أن دور الولايات المتّحدة لن يكون على حساب لبنان، إلّا أن الانطباعات التي تركها تؤكّد أنه يريد الضغط على لبنان للتخلّي عن هذه المساحة البحرية التي يتمسّك بها اللبنانيون.
وفيما سجّل المسؤولون اللبنانيون موقفاً واضحاً لناحية التمسّك بكل شبر من مساحة لبنان، البريّة والبحرية، إلّا أن هناك تمايزاً في الآراء إزاء الوساطة الأميركية، بين من يؤكّد على ضرورة التمسّك بعمل اللجنة الثلاثية التي ترعاها الأمم المتّحدة بين الجيش اللبناني وجيش العدوّ وحصر النقاشات ضمن اللجنة، وبين من يسوّق لضرورة القبول بالوساطة الأميركية والتعامل معها، على أساس أن الدور الأميركي سيكون ضمانة للحقوق اللبنانية، بناءً على وعود كوشنير للحريري. من جهتها، قالت مصادر وزارية إن «كوشنير حُيّد عن الكثير من الملفات داخل الإدارة الأميركية الآن، لكن ما المشكلة في وساطة أميركية؟ إذا قدّموا لنا عرضا غير مقنع لا نقبله، بكلّ بساطة».
وقام ساترفيلد مساء أمس بزيارة رئيس الجهمورية ميشال عون في قصر بعبدا، بعد أن جال صباحاً على الحدود الجنوبيّة مع المدير العام للأمن العام اللواء عبّاس إبراهيم وقائد قوات الطوارئ الدولية العاملة في الجنوب مايكل بيري، وعقدوا اجتماعاً في مقرّ القوات الدولية في الناقورة. وزار ساترفيلد في حضور السفيرة اليزابيت ريتشارد قائد الجيش العماد جوزف عون الذي شدّد على «الموقف اللبناني الرافض لمحاولة هذا العدو إنشاء جدار فاصل يمر في أراضٍ متحفظ عليها لبنانياً». كما زار ساترفيلد وريتشارد ضريح الرئيس رفيق الحريري في وسط بيروت.
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President Aoun: Israeli Construction of Wall Contradicts with UNIFIL, Army Efforts to Maintain Stability

January 19, 2018

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President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, welcomed at Baabda Palace on Friday Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Michael Beary, who visited the President with an accompanying delegation.

The President relayed to Beary Lebanon’s demand to consider the 13 points it holds along the “Blue Line”, which Lebanon does not regard as a final border, but rather a temporary measure that had been adopted after liberation took place back in the year 2000 when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon.

“Israel’s construction of a wall off the Lebanese border, and under the current status of the Blue Line, contradicts with the efforts of UNIFIL, in cooperation with the Lebanese army, to maintain security and stability along the southern border,” Aoun said.

“Lebanon is providing full support to UNIFIL to carry out the required tasks,” Aoun added. “The army has deployed an additional troop to maintain stability and help implement resolution 1701, at the time that Israel persists its incessant violations against the country’s sovereignty,” Aoun told Beary and his accompanying delegation.

In return, General Beary briefed President Aoun on “the stable situation prevailing in the south,” lauding the Lebanese Army’s efforts supporting UNIFIL to implement International Security Council resolution #1701.”

On another level, Aoun and Beary discussed preparations underway for Rome II conference set to take place on the 28th of February in support of the Lebanese Army and security forces, as well as the tasks of UNIFIL.

Source: Al-Manar Website and NNA

Lebanese Security Apparatus Carried out Wide Mission That Foiled ISIL Terrorist Plots

 January 19, 2018

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad Al-Machnouk

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad Al-Machnouk revealed on Friday that Internal Security Forces (ISF) has carried out a wide security mission that foiled terrorist plots by Takfiri ISIL group.

In a press conference in Beirut on Friday, Machnouk said the ISF’s Information Branch used an ISIL commander to gather intelligence on the group’s plots in Lebanon.

The minister said that the Lebanese security agency had arrested high-ranking ISIL official in June 2017, Abu Jaafar Al-Iraqi, noting that the Takfiri commander was recruited by the ISF’s Information Branch for five months.

Intelligence was reportedly gathered through Iraqi starting from last June until the end of 2017, particularly during the holiday season, the Lebanese minister said.

“The Intelligence Branch carried out a rare and wide mission that has saved Lebanon from dangerous terrorist threats,” Machnouk said during the press conference.

Meanwhile, he noted that Iraqi’s role in assisting Lebanon’s security services remained unknown to ISIL and even to his family over this period, during which the ISF had access to all of his incoming phone calls and other communications.

SourceLebanese media

Sayyed Nasrallah Warns Israeli Enemy against Provocative Measures on Lebanese-Palestinian Border

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Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Friday warned the Zionist enemy against constructing a separation wall at the 13 controversial positions along the Lebanese-Palestinian border, stressing that the Islamic Resistance backs the government which rejected the Israeli measure.

“After liberating the Lebanese occupied territories from the Zionist enemy in 2000, the UN demarcation of the national border with the Palestinian territories left 13 controversial positions, and the Lebanese government informed the UNIFIL about its rejection for any Israeli measure in this concern. The Islamic Resistance backs the Lebanese government and army, and the Zionists must take Lebanon’s warning seriously.”

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Lebanon to complain to UNSC about israeli violation

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Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says the Arab country will lodge an “urgent complaint” with the United Nations Security Council against Israel over an airstrike conducted from the Lebanese airspace on a military facility in the western Syrian province of Hama.

Bassil issued a directive to Lebanese Ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam on Saturday, calling on him to take the measure “after Israeli authorities admitted to have carried out a missile attack against targets on Syrian territories from Lebanese airspace.”

The Syrian army said in a statement on September 7 that Israeli warplanes had fired a number of missiles at 2:42 a.m. local time (0042 GMT) from the Lebanese airspace against one of its military positions near the town of Masyaf, located approximately 40 kilometers west of the provincial capital city of Hama.

The army statement then warned about the “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region.”

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, later reported that the air raid had killed two people at the site and caused material damage.

The Syrian army operates a military facility north of Masyaf, which includes a training camp and a branch of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, according to an AFP report.

This file photo shows two Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jets in flight.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes. 

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war of aggression Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Lebanon filed a complaint with the United Nations, presenting over 7,000 documents pertaining to Israeli violations of Lebanese territory.

Commentary: The Conflict in Syria Was Always Israel’s War

[ Ed. note – Syria seems to be on the threshold of a final and decisive victory over ISIS. With six years worth of effort and more than a billion dollars spent in the quest to topple Bashar Assad, the regime-changers finally seem to be throwing in the towel. Israel, of course, is none too happy with the current turn of events.

According to a report here, the Zionist state “is gearing up to hold its largest military drill in nearly 20 years” on its border with Lebanon, this apparently in anticipation of a war with Hezbollah. This should come as no surprise, really. The video below highlights the not insignificant contributions made by Hezbollah in the defeat of ISIS/Daesh.

In the article below Whitney Webb makes a persuasive argument that Israel, and not the US, was in reality all along the “mastermind of the plan” to overthrow Assad. Webb states that it was Israel which “not only drafted the original blueprint for the Syrian conflict but guided U.S. involvement by exerting its powerful influence over the foreign policy of that country.” The words “led by the nose” of course come to mind.

And in addition to being led by the nose into a war in Syria, the nose hooks fastened tightly to our leaders now seem to be leading us into supporting whatever scheme the Israelis are presently cooking up in Lebanon. Recently Ambassador Nikki Haley successfully pushed through the Security Council a measure designed to force UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, to become more assertive and confrontational with Hezbollah. As the New York Times reported:

Both Israel and the United States have grown increasingly strident in recent days over what they have described as a blatant buildup of Iranian weaponry by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon including hidden rockets. They have accused Unifil of turning a blind eye to it.

How long will the American people be content to fight wars for Israel? Will they at some point get fed up with it? ]

***

By Whitney Webb

After years of fomenting the Syrian conflict from the shadows, the U.S. has recently seemed to back away from its push to militarily intervene in the embattled nation, instead choosing to focus its saber-rattling and destabilization efforts on other theaters. The consequence of this has seemingly been the winding down of the long-running conflict, now entering its seventh year.

Buoyed by Russia, Iran and Lebanon, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has managed to retake vast swaths of territory, all while surviving and growing stronger over the course of a largely foreign-funded onslaught. As a result, many of the governments that were instrumental in funding and arming the so-called “moderate” opposition have begun to extricate themselves, unwilling to further test the resilience of Assad or the Syrian people.

With some anticipating the long-awaited conclusion of the Syrian conflict, recent threats from Israel’s government to assassinate Assad by bombing his residence seemed to appear out of the blue. According to the Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a recent visit to Russia warned the Kremlin that if Iran continues to “extend its reach” in Syria, Israel would bomb the presidential palace in Damascus.

Israel’s comments should come as no surprise, however, as the foreign-funded and manufactured conflict in Syria was always Israel’s war. The only real surprise is Israel’s growing isolation in pushing for the further escalation of the conflict.

Though it has successfully avoided being labeled a major player in the effort to oust Assad, Israel has long been the mastermind of the plan, which stems in large part from the long-standing hostilities between the two nations as well as Israel’s own regional ambitions. State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have shown that in 2006, five years before the conflict in Syria manifested, the government of Israel had hatched a plan to overthrow the Assad government by engineering sectarian strife in the country, creating paranoia within the highest-ranks of the Syrian government, and isolating Syria from its strongest regional ally, Iran.

Israel then passed this plan along to the United States, which would then involve Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt in fomenting the “breakdown” of the Assad regime as a way of weakening both Iran and Hezbollah — with the effect of empowering both Israel and the Gulf monarchies, two seemingly disparate forces in the region that are becoming increasingly allied.

Leaked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton further reveal Israel’s role in covertly creating the conflict and its clear role in securing the involvement of the U.S. and other nations in executing its plan for Assad’s removal. One email, forwarded by Clinton to her advisor Jacob Sullivan, argues that Israel is convinced that Iran would lose “its only ally” in the region were Assad’s government to collapse.

It further stated that “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.” This possible sectarian war was perceived as a potential “factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran.”

Another Clinton email released by WikiLeaks stated”

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,”

Adding

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

The email also notes:

A successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States” and states that “arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

Continued here

ISRAELI MEDIA ACCUSES RUSSIA OF PROVIDING DIPLOMATIC SUPPORT TO HEZBOLLAH IN UN SECURITY COUNCIL

South Front

Israeli Media Accuses Russia Of Providing Diplomatic Support To Hezbollah In UN Security Council

FILE IMAGE

Russia has worked behind the scenes providing Hezbollah a diplomatic cover in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported citing Israeli sources.

According to the newspaper, Russia threatened to veto US and Israeli moves against Hezbollah as the UNSC weighed extending and expanding a mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The Russian side allegedly pushed to remove “the direct reference to Hezbollah as conducting prohibited military activity in southern Lebanon that is in violation of Resolution 1701.

As a result the UNSC unanimously voted to renew Resolution 1701 last week but only after the US and Israel had agreed to remove paragraphs that were critical of Hezbollah.

The US-Israeli attempt to use the resolution to put an additional pressure on Hezbollah in southern Lebanon failed.

Haaretz linked this with the Russian involvement in the ongoing Syrian conflict where Moscow sided with the Assad government, Tehran and Hezbollah in a battle against ISIS and al-Qaeda.

The UNIFIL patrols Lebanon’s southern border with Israel where Hezbollah has a strong presence. The US and Israel describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the resolution and blamed Hezbollah for alleged arms trafficking in southern Lebanon.

The UNSC discussion over Resolution 1701 followed a meeting between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi where the Israeli prime minister was attempting to bargain with the Russian leadership over the future of Syria. The Israeli leadership is concerned over the growing Shia influence in the country. However, it seems Netaniyahu failed to gain a Russian support over this issue.

 

يحيى دبوق

إدانة حزب الله في مجلس الأمن خطّ أحمر روسي، ويدفع موسكو إلى استخدام حق النقض. هذا ما كشفت عنه أمس مصادر دبلوماسية إسرائيلية، شاركت في المداولات التي سبقت صدور قرار التمديد لقوة اليونيفيل عاماً إضافياً.

والتهديد الروسي باستخدام الفيتو لمصلحة حزب الله في مجلس الامن قد يعدّ نقلة نوعية للدبلوماسية الروسية، رغم أنه في الواقع تعبير طبيعي ومنطقي عن حقيقة التحالف الاستراتيجي القائم بين روسيا ومحور المقاومة، والذي يتجاوز في أهدافه «مهمة» مساعدة الدولة السورية على مواجهة التهديدات، بل يرتبط أيضاً باليوم الذي يلي انتصار الدولة السورية، ليمتد حضوره إلى الإقليم. تحالف دفع معهد أبحاث الأمن القومي في تل أبيب إلى التأكيد، في بحث صدر عنه أخيراً، أن موسكو تنظر إلى الوجود الإيراني وحزب الله في سوريا على أنه «ثروة روسية».

إذاً، أمّنت موسكو مظلة حمائية في المحفل الدولي الأهم، مجلس الأمن، ومنعت عن حزب الله حملة تحريض وتشويه كانت تهدف إليها إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة. لكن الخطوة لا تقتصر، بتداعياتها ونتائجها المباشرة وغير المباشرة، على موضوعة اليونيفيل وتعديلات تفويضها. محور الرسالة الروسية المباشرة هو القوة الدولية، لكن خلفياتها وأهدافها تتجاوز ذلك، لتشير إلى المقاربة الروسية العملانية للساحتين السورية واللبنانية. وهي تشكل نوعاً من الخطوط الحمراء الضمنية الروسية، والتي قد ترتقي لاحقاً في حال ارتقاء الجهة المقابلة.

واذا كان رئيس الحكومة الاسرائيلية بنيامين نتنياهو قد سارع إلى موسكو في أعقاب تيقّنه من انتصار الدولة السورية وحلفائها في سوريا، عارضاً أمام الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين خطوطه الحمراء لمرحلة ما بعد الانتصار، إلا أن الأخير اختار كجواب على هذه التهديدات، التي تطال أيضاً ومن ناحية استراتيجية المصالح الروسية في سوريا، مسارين اثنين:

في الأول، دعا بوتين نتنياهو إلى التواصل معه في شؤون المنطقة، بعد أن استعرض الثاني تهديداته و«خطوطه الحمراء» الجديدة إزاء الساحة السورية التي تنصّ على إبعاد حزب الله وإيران عن سوريا. وهي دعوة من بوتين، بمفهوم التهديد الضمني، أن الموقف من أيّ تطور في سوريا يمكن معالجته فقط عبر البوابة الحصرية الروسية، وبما تسمح به موسكو، وفي حدّ أدنى، التفاهم معها. موقف كان على تل أبيب أن تدرك أنه دعوة إلى «التعقل» في سياق تهديداتها المتواصلة للساحة السورية.

في المسار الثاني، العملاني، اختار بوتين توجيه رسالة من نوع آخر، عبر المداولات التي سبقت قرار التمديد لليونيفيل. تداعيات هذه الخطوة المباشرة جاءت كبحاً لطموحات إسرائيلية وأميركية هدفت إلى تغيير تفويض اليونيفيل، أو ساعدت، بعبارة أدق، كثيراً على كبح هذه الطموحات. لكن الخطوة الروسية في الوقت نفسه هي رسالة تتجاوز موضوعة القوة الدولية وتعدّ استعراضاً روسياً مضاداً للاستعراض الإسرائيلي المتواصل منذ أسابيع وأشهر. بمعنى، إذا كانت إسرائيل تهدد بإمكان تفعيل قوتها لإظهار تصميمها بأن «رب البيت سيجنّ» في حال لم تلبِّ موسكو مطالبها ضد إيران وحزب الله في سوريا، فقد اختار بوتين ساحة الأمم المتحدة للرد على هذا الاستعراض، من بين ردود أخرى، لم تظهر حتى الآن إلى العلن.

وكانت صحيفة هآرتس، التي كشفت «الرسالة الروسية» أمس، قد نقلت عن مصادر سياسية إسرائيلية رفيعة المستوى قولها إن المسعى الابتدائي لواشنطن في تضمين نص قرار التمديد لليونيفيل إدانة لحزب الله، ووجه برفض روسي قاطع، فيما أكدت البعثة الإسرائيلية في اتصالاتها مع تل أبيب أن الخط الأحمر والفيتو الروسيين كانا حاضرين في حال ذكر اسم حزب الله في نص القرار.

وبحسب كلام موظف إسرائيلي رفيع المستوى، التصرف الروسي ليس إلا واحداً من بين مظاهر كثيرة تشهد على التقارب القائم بين روسيا وحزب الله، ونتيجة للائتلاف بين روسيا وإيران، الذي تكوّن في الأساس لمساعدة نظام (الرئيس السوري، بشار) الأسد في سوريا. وكما يؤكد المصدر، المصالح الروسية في سوريا والأنشطة العسكرية المشتركة بين الروس وحزب الله، ضد داعش وبقية التنظيمات المسلحة هناك، كانت كافية كي تدفع موسكو لمساعدة حزب الله سياسياً في مجلس الأمن.

وبحسب «هآرتس»، الجدير بالذكر أن الخطوة الروسية أتت بعد أيام قليلة من لقاء نتنياهو ببوتين. وفي ذلك أكثر من دلالة حول الموقف الروسي من المطالب الإسرائيلية التي نقلها إليه، بشأن اليوم الذي يلي انتصار المحور المعادي لإسرائيل، في سوريا.

 

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خارطة طريق الحرب التي ترسم سقف التفاهم الإستراتيجي بين روسيا ومحور المقاومة وتفسر الموقف المشترك من إسرائيل وخيبة نتنياهو في موسكو فتحرير مزارع شبعا والجولان هدفان متفق عليهما لرسم حزام الأمن في منطقة البحار الخمسة لفتح باب الحق الفلسطيني على قيام دولة كاملة او إنتفاضة ومقاومة مستمرتين …المعارك ترسم ما بعدها لكن المعركة الأولى مرسومة ضمن سقوف التفاهمات الكبرى للحلفاء …روسيا تحت سقف القانون الدولي ومحور المقاومة تحت سقف الحق والحرب على سوريا تقفل بأن يدفع صاحبها الإسرائيلي فاتورة الهزيمة فيها …من لا يصدق فليسأل نفسه هل كان يصدق قولنا السابق منذ أربع سنوات …لو إستدعى إنتصار سوريا ان يأتي الجيش الروسي والحرس الثوري وكل قوات حزب الله …وحتى الجيش الصيني …فسيأتون ؟

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