"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Lebanon to release detainees linked to Beirut port explosion - Anadolu Agency

The Lebanese Court of Cassation decided Wednesday to release those who were arrested in the Beirut port explosion in 2020. 

Public Prosecutor of Cassation Judge Ghassan Oueidat issued a document that said "all those arrested in the port explosion case will be released with the condition of restricting their travel.”

“The decision comes at a time when the judicial investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, considered himself empowered by the Public Prosecutor to take whatever measures he deems appropriate."

Bitar resumed an inquiry Monday into the deadly blast after a 13-month suspension because of political resistance to his attempts to interrogate top officials.

He decided to question Prosecutor-General Ghassan Oueidat, according to media reports.

But Oueidat refused to be summoned, claiming Tuesday that Bitar "has no jurisdiction."


'Not Hezbollah's candidate': Franjieh wants to be 'consensual' president - Naharnet

Marada leader chief Suleiman Franjieh met Thursday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkerki.

"I'm not Hezbollah's candidate, I'm seeking to be a consensual candidate," Franjieh said.

He added that he would accept to be elected with 65 votes, and that he would announce his candidacy once he senses that he can secure enough votes.

"I don't want to be a confrontational president," Franjieh said, asking if MP and presidential candidate Michel Mouawwad is consensual.


Syria’s Envoy to UN Says US Occupation Takes Toll on Security, Stability - Tasnim News Agency

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Syria's ambassador to the United Nations denounced the United States' destructive policies toward his nation, saying the US occupation has taken a toll on the security and stability of the Arab country.

In his address to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Bassam Sabbagh said that the US's actions toward the rest of the world and the region, particularly Syria, had seeded "instability and insecurity" in his country and undermined decades-long developmental gains.

According to Sabbagh, the US's harmful acts caused a significant portion of Syrians to become internally displaced, refugees, and food insecure.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on the political and humanitarian issues in Syria, Sabbagh said that some countries continue to take advantage of the UNSC to continue their defamation campaigns against Syria without looking for solutions to the dire humanitarian situation they put the Syrian people in.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Beirut blast: Lebanon prosecutor charges judge leading investigation - BBC

 Lebanon's top prosecutor has charged the judge leading the inquiry into the 2020 Beirut port blast and ordered the release of suspects in custody.

Ghassan Oweidat summoned Judge Tarek Bitar for questioning, accusing him of "acting without a mandate".

But the judge insisted that Mr Oweidat had no authority to charge him.

On Monday, he unexpectedly restarted the probe after a 13-month suspension and filed unspecified charges against eight officials, including Mr Oweidat.

No-one has yet been held accountable for the blast on 4 August 2020, which killed at least 218 people and injured more than 6,000 others.

A fire triggered the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored unsafely in a port warehouse for almost six years, causing a massive explosion that devastated a large part of the Lebanese capital.

Russian Military Says Militants Preparing for Acts of Sabotage in Syria’s Idlib - Tasnim News Agency

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Russia has warned that foreign-backed terrorists are planning a series of sabotage and terror strikes in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib.

Their aim is to implicate Syrian and Russian forces and create pretexts for military action in the war-torn Arab country.

Major General Oleg Yegorov, deputy head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria, stated on Tuesday that the center had received information that foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists were attempting to escalate tensions in the Idlib de-escalation zone and disrupt joint patrols conducted by Russian and Turkish military forces by attacking Syrian government forces and Russian troops.


Syria: Yarmouk Camp residents given one month to clear destroyed homes - Middle East Monitor

The Syrian government has given the residents of the Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees, whose homes have been partially or completely destroyed, one month to clear them or they will be removed under the penalty of a fine.

This came in an announcement issued by the Damascus Governorate in the official Al-Baath newspaper, on Monday, 23 January.

The announcement called on "the resident and property owners in the Yarmouk area, to visit the Yarmouk Services Department in order to remove their fallen buildings or those that are partially or completely inhabitable, in accordance with an announcement published in the Official Gazette and websites, within one month" said the Palestinian Refugee Portal.

The announcement, signed by the Damascus Governorate, confirmed that if the houses are not removed within a month, they will be removed and cleared, and the owners will be fined.

The announcement came at a time when the people of the Yarmouk camp are calling for decisions to complete the camp's cleaning operations and remove the rubble, including the areas of Al-Urouba and Al-Taqaddum, and the neighbourhoods that were not included in the operations that took place on Yarmouk and Palestine Streets, as well as some of the camp's neighbourhoods in September 2021.


Suriye Savunma Bakanı Tahran’da - Şarkul Avsat

İran Cumhurbaşkanı İbrahim Reisi, Suriye Savunma Bakanı Ali Mahmud Abbas ile görüştü.  İran'ın yarı resmi ajansı ISNA’nın haberine göre Reisi dün (Salı) gerçekleşen görüşmede, İran'ın ‘yeniden yapılanma aşamasında Suriye halkının yanında olduğunu’ vurguladı.

İran ile Suriye arasındaki ilişkileri ‘stratejik’ olarak nitelendiren Cumhurbaşkanı Reisi, ‘bu ilişkilerin, iki halkın ortak inançlarının yanı sıra sahip oldukları direniş ruhuna dayandığını’ söyledi.


Lübnan'daki liman patlamasında tüm tutukluların serbest bırakılmasına karar verildi - Anadolu Ajansı

Lübnan Temyiz Mahkemesi, Beyrut Limanı'ndaki patlama kapsamında tutuklu yargılananların serbest bırakılmasına karar verdi.

Lübnan'ın resmi ajansı NNA'da yer alan habere göre, Temyiz Mahkemesi Başsavcısı Gassan Uvaydat'ın, "istinasız bir şekilde" liman patlamasında yargılanan tüm tutukluların serbest bırakılmasına karar verdiği kaydedildi.

Serbest bırakılanların bundan sonra tutuksuz yargılanacağına işaret edilen haberde, Uvaydat'ın, söz konusu kişiler hakkında yurt dışına çıkış yasağı kararı verdiği belirtildi.

Patlamayı soruşturan Yargıç Tarık Bitar'ın dosyadan el çektirildiği ve hakkında yurt dışına çıkış yasağı kararı verilerek tüm yetkilerinin alındığı bilgisi paylaşıldı.

Haberde ayrıca, sanıkların yeniden tutuklanmaları veya ifadeye çağrılmalarının da artık Yüksek Yargı Şurası'nın yetkisinde olduğu vurgulandı.


UAE Is Working On Syrian-Saudi Rapprochement - South Front

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is making efforts to restore Syria’s relations with the Arab World, specifically with Saudi Arabia, Syria’s Al-Watan reported on January 24.

Sources familiar with the matter told the government-aligned newspaper that UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan discussed the Syrian-Saudi rapprochement with President Bashar al-Assad during his surprise visit to Damascus earlier this month.

The sources noted that Abdullah bin Zayed send a message to his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, just a few hours after returning from Syria.

Initially, the minister’s visit was linked to Russia’s ongoing efforts to restore ties between Ankara and Damascus. This has been denied by Al-Watan.


HTS-Linked Ahrar Al-Sham Commander Killed In Mysterious.. - South Front

 On January 25, a drone strike killed a senior commander of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement who is close to al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

The commander, Saddam al-Musa, was reportedly targeted by an unidentified combat drone near his house in the Turkish-occupied town of al-Hadath, which is located in the northern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo.

Al-Musa was the commander of Ahrar al-Sham’s Eastern Sector, which is allied to HTS. The commander was very close to HTS leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani and it is said that he had pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group, which occupies the Greater Idlib region, in secret.

Syrian opposition activists said that al-Musa, also known “Abu Uday Aulan,” was threatened by the Turkish military prior to his assassination over his role in spreading HTS influence in Turkish-occupied areas.

Earlier this month, the commander refused Turkish orders to withdraw from al-Homran crossing in the northern Aleppo countryside, which links Turkish-occupied areas with the territory of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The crossing is one of the key oil smuggling routes in war-torn Syria.


Opening Syria’s M4 highway requires military operation against Nusra Front: Source - The Cradle

The M4 highway is considered a major crossing for the international shipping route that connects Turkey, Iraq and Jordan via Syria

The Cradle received exclusive information on 25 January concerning an inevitable multilateral military operation against the Nusra Front to liberate parts of the international M4 highway in Syria, spearheaded by the Turkish-backed National Army, Turkiye, Russia, and the Syrian military.

The M4 international highway crosses five governorates in northern Syria, adjacent to the Syrian-Turkish border from Latakia, passing through Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, and Hasakah. The road connects the Latakia governorate with the Syrian-Iraqi Yarubiya crossing in the Hasakah governorate.

A Syrian source confirmed to The Cradle that the Syrian-Turkish-Russian joint security committee, which was formed after the meeting of the defense ministers in Moscow at the end of December 2022, discussed a mechanism to cooperate on the opening of the M4 international highway, which faces complex security issues.

However, according to the source, parts of the M4 road are currently under the control of the Nusra Front, particularly in the area of Kabani, in the northern countryside of Latakia, which constitutes a major security issue and obstacle for the plans to reopen the M4 corridor inside Idlib, and the Al-Ghab Plain area in the northern countryside of Hama.

The source also revealed that the joint committee worked to facilitate a mutual understanding with factions of the Turkish-backed National Army and transfer all points and crossings in the northern countryside of Idlib and Aleppo under its control; a move viewed as a message of Turkiye’s commitment to Damascus for the cooperation on the reopening of the highway.

However, the Nusra Front, which is a branch of Al-Qaeda, besieged the headquarters of the “Sultan Murad Division” and forced it to withdraw from it in the city of Afrin. Recent attacks by the armed group are considered a show of force against Turkish and Syrian reconciliation efforts spearheaded by Moscow.

Extremist factions have increased their attacks against Syrian Army positions in recent weeks, particularly those who have received backing from Turkiye, to protest the potential reconciliation that is in the works between Ankara and Damascus.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Iran Vows To Rebuild Syria Amid Own Dire Economic Needs - Iran International

In a meeting with the Syrian defense minister, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has said the Islamic Republic is ready to help Damascus financially in rebuilding the country.

Raisi also described the relations between the two countries as strategic stating that Iran will always stand by Syria.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a true friend of the Syrian nation because it stood by the Syrian nation and government during the period of resistance against terrorism and is ready now to stand by them during the reconstruction period by boosting all-round economic cooperation,” Raisi told the Syrian minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas.

The comments by Raisi comes at a time when Iran is facing one of its most severe economic crises with the national currency at a historic low, with tens of millions hit by unexpected poverty.

Meanwhile, in a separate meeting, Commander of the Revolutionary Guard Hossein Salami told the Syrian official that Tehran is ready to help Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces in the required fields.


Could There Be a Breakthrough in Syria? - Asharq Al-Awsat

Türkiye’s sharp shift in its Syria policy has become the centerpiece of the recent diplomatic traffic regarding Syria.

On December 28, the ministers of defense of Russia, Syria and Türkiye met in Moscow for the first time in 12 years. Afterwards, the highest-level Turkish officials laid down a roadmap, according to which, following the defense ministers meeting, ministers of foreign affairs would meet soon and then the process would hopefully be crowned with a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As it turns out, it is unlikely that things will happen as quickly as the Turkish side hoped.

Assad has declared that “first, occupation and support for terrorism should end” meaning that Turkish troops should withdraw from Syria and Türkiye should stop all its support to the Syrian opposition.


Halep-Lazkiye karayolunun açılmasının etkilerine dair endişeler artıyor - Şarkul Avsat

 İdlib’in güneyinde ve batısında bulunan başlıca ilçeler ile Hama kırsalındaki Gab Ovası'nın kuzey kesiminde yaşayanlar, yakınlarından geçen M4 Halep-Lazkiye uluslararası karayolunun açılması ve rejim güçlerinin yolun güneyine ilerleyip kontrol etmesi ihtimalinin basında yer almaya başlamasının endişeye kapıldı. Halk, Moskova’nın girişimleriyle Ankara ile Şam arasında normalleşmeye dair ilk adımların atılmasından korkuyorlar.

İdlib'in güneyindeki Eriha ilçesinde ikamet eden 58 yalındaki Ebu Hasan şu açıklamada bulundu:

“Eğer Türk basınında yer alan ve ‘M4’ adıyla bilinen Halep-Lazkiye uluslararası karayolunun Rusya ve Suriye rejiminin katılımıyla açılmasına yönelik hazırlıklara işaret eden haberler doğruysa bu, bölgenin başına yeni bir felaketin gelecek demektir. Cisr es-Şuğur ve Eriha gibi yolun kuzeyindeki ve güneyindeki kasabalarda ve Cebel ez-Zaviye’deki 20’den fazla köy ve kasabada yaklaşık 250 bin kişi, geçim kaynağını ve çiftliklerini kaybedecektir. Aynı şekilde muhalifler de Suriye'nin kuzeyindeki birçok tarım ürününü güvence altına alan bir tarım ambarı olarak kabul edilen Gab Ovası'nın kuzey kesimini ve er-Ruj Vadisi’ni kaybedecek. Çünkü Türkiye ile Rusya arasında yapılacak bir anlaşma ile karayolunun açılması, Suriye rejim güçlerinin bu bölgelere doğru ilerleyeceği ve kontrol altına alacağı anlamına geliyor. Sonuç olarak, bölge sakinleri kaçmak ve mülteci kamplarına gitmek zorunda kalacaklar.”

How one Aleppo neighborhood continues to defy siege of Syria’s Assad - Arab News

ALEPPO, Syria: At 2:30 a.m. on January 22, Sheikh Maksoud, a Kurdish-majority neighborhood in Syria’s Aleppo, was struck by tragedy. A five-story residential building collapsed, burying dozens of residents under a mountain of rubble.

After round-the-clock rescue efforts, 16 bodies were recovered and two survivors were brought to the neighborhood’s hospital for treatment. According to state media, the structure’s foundations had been weakened by water leakage.

For residents of Sheikh Maksoud, this is just the latest in a litany of disasters as the neighborhood struggles to survive under a crushing siege imposed by opposition and regime groups alike.

Over the past decade, Aleppo has been transformed from a once-thriving trade, travel and cultural hub into a battleground, leaving much of the city in ruins.


Lebanese lira trades above LL54,000 to the dollar - L'Orient Today

 "If the current political and economic status quo continues to prevail throughout 2023, it is likely that the lira to dollar exchange rate will double at the end-of-year horizon," an expert warns. 

BEIRUT — The Lebanese lira continued its tumble on the parallel market on Tuesday, exceeding LL54,000 against the US dollar, according to several mobile tracking applications. 

This new low stirred anger in the streets of different regions, according to the National News Agency and L'Orient Today's local correspondents. 

According to the Lirarate.org platform, the dollar was trading at LL54,600 to buy and at LL54,500 to sell as of 3:30 p.m.

The gap between the parallel market rate and that of the Sayrafa platform (LL38,000 to the dollar since last week), designed by Banque du Liban to try to stabilize the exchange rate, now stands at around LL16,000.


Russia and Syria restore Al Jarrah airbase for joint use - The National News

Russia and Syria have restored Al Jarrah military airbase in the country's north for joint use, Russia's Defence Ministry said late on Monday.

"Russian and Syrian military personnel restored the destroyed Al Jarrah airfield," the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.

"The joint basing of aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force at the Al Jarrah airfield makes it possible to cover the state border."

The small base east of Aleppo was recaptured from ISIS fighters in 2017.

Russia has been a significant military force in Syria since launching air strikes and ground operations there in 2015. It further asserted its presence after the US pulled out its forces in 2019.

The conflict in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions and drawn in regional and world powers, has entered into a second decade, although fighting is at a lower intensity than in earlier years.

With backing from Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's government has recovered most of its territory. Turkish-backed opposition fighters still control a pocket in the north-west, and Kurdish fighters backed by the US also control territory near the Turkish border.


Former Lebanon PM Diab charged in Beirut blast investigation - Al-Jazeera

Lebanon’s public prosecutor and head of its domestic intelligence agency also are charged in connection with the 2020 explosion, which killed at least 218 people.

The judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port explosion has charged Lebanon’s then-prime minister, Hassan Diab, and two other former ministers with homicide with probable intent, according to a court summons seen by the Reuters news agency.

Other top officials, including the country’s public prosecutor and the head of the domestic intelligence agency, were also charged in connection with the blast, judicial sources said on Tuesday.


US sanctions Hezbollah financial adviser in Lebanon - Al-Monitor

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday designated a Lebanon-based network accused of facilitating financial activities for Hezbollah and helping the militant group profit from the country’s economic meltdown.

The man at the center of the network is Hassan Moukalled, a Lebanese money exchanger and economist who the US Treasury Department said “plays a key role in enabling Hezbollah to continue to exploit and exacerbate Lebanon’s economic crisis.”

In a statement, the Treasury said Moukalled works closely with the previously sanctioned Hezbollah finance official Muhammad Qasir, including on business deals involving Russia and in obtaining weapons for Iran-backed Hezbollah. He also played an intermediary role in negotiations between the country’s Central Bank and Hezbollah in 2016.

The department also blacklisted Moukalled’s Beirut-based money-services business, CTEX Exchange, which it said functions as a financial front company for Hezbollah. 

“As Lebanon and its economy faced a dire and ongoing financial crisis in mid-2022, Hassan Moukalled was working with Hezbollah officials to capitalize on investors’ and expatriates’ efforts to make money in the Lebanese financial sector and transfer cash out of Lebanon,” Treasury said in a statement. 

The Treasury further designated Moukalled’s sons Rayyan Moukalled and Rani Moukalled, who are accused of helping enable his financial activities, and two additional companies that are owned or controlled by Moukalled.  

“As corruption undermines economic growth and the ability of individuals to provide for their families, the United States is committed to holding accountable those who exploit their privileged positions for personal gain,” Brian Nelson, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.


Basil ve Hizbullah arasındaki görüşmede ittifakın devamı vurgulandı - Şarkul Avsat

Özgür Yurtsever Hareketi lideri Cibran Basil ile Hizbullah Genel Sekreteri Hasan Nasrallah’ın siyasi danışmanı Hüseyin Halil başkanlığındaki bir heyet, aralarındaki siyasi gerilimin ardından bir görüşme gerçekleştirdi. ‘Samimi’ ve ‘kapsamlı’ bir toplantı yapıldığını belirten Halil, Mar Mihail Mutabakatı’nın yürürlükte olduğunu vurguladı.

Çatışma içerisinde oldukları iddialarını yalanlayan Halil sözlerini şöyle sürdürdü:

“Görüşme çok açık ve netti. Cumhurbaşkanlığı ve hükümet oturumları konusunda birçok fikir sunduk. Bu son görüşmemiz olmayacak. Görüşmenin detaylarına fazla girmeyeceğim. Zira tavsiyeleri medya önünde değil, kapalı kapılar ardında yapıyoruz. Mar Mihail Mutabakatı yürürlükte. Biz ve Özgür Yurtsever Hareketi, biri diğerinden hızlı olsa dahi birbiriyle çarpışmayacak iki araba gibi tek yönde ilerliyoruz. Basil'den bu hususta bir kırgınlık görmedik.”

Aralarındaki farklılıkları doğal olarak nitelendiren Halil ayrıca “Biz tek parti değiliz. Bazı konulara farklı yaklaşımda bulunan iki partiyiz. Ancak her zaman ortak noktalarda çalışıyoruz” ifadelerini kullandı.

Liman patlaması konusunda adli soruşturmacı Tarık Bitar'ın görev başına dönmesi hususunda da şunları söyledi:

“Hizbullah'ın yargı konusunda bir görüşü var. Yargının beyaz olması gereken kıyafeti, liman dosyası da dahil olmak üzere pek çok kara noktayı gözler önüne serdi.”