"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)
Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)
Monday, June 30, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
In a move that placed him at odds with US policy, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday took his first public stand in support of Kurdish independence.
He also warned that Israel must prepare for a possibleinfiltration of ISIS forces via Jordan by building a security barrier along that border that would run from Eilat all the way up to the Golan Heights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for Kurdish statehood on Sunday, taking a position that appeared to clash with the US preference to keep sectarian war-torn Iraq united.
Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, seeing in the minority ethnic group a buffer against shared Arab adversaries.
The Kurds have seized on recent sectarian chaos in Iraq to expand their autonomous northern territory to include Kirkuk, which sits on vast oil deposits that could make the independent state many dream of economically viable.
But Iraqi Kurds, who have ethnic compatriots in Iran, Turkey and Syria, have hesitated to declare full independence, one reason being the feared response of neighbouring countries.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Dozens of people were wounded on Saturday when a car bomb exploded in the Syrian town of Douma, northeast of the capital Damascus.
Video uploaded on the Internet showed the flaming wreckage of an overturned vehicle in front of the blackened pillars of a nearby building, which a voice in the footage said was located in a popular Douma market.
The leader of Syria’s main opposition abroad Ahmed al-Jarba annulled on Friday a decision to dismantle the rebel Supreme Military Council over graft allegations.
Jarba, who is the head of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC), rebuked the decision by the interim opposition government as it “falls outside its authority and its government head,” he said in a statement published by Syrian activists on Friday.
On Thursday, the chief of the opposition government Ahmad Tohme decided to disband the Supreme Military Council of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and “refer its members to the government’s financial and administration committee for investigation.”
BEIRUT, June 28 (Reuters) - Islamist rebels waged a counter-offensive in Syria's border town of Albu Kamal on Saturday, challenging the grip of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which has seized large areas on each side of the crumbling Iraqi-Syrian frontier.
Earlier this week ISIL fighters appeared to be consolidating their hold over Albu Kamal when the local leader of the rival Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, pledged allegiance to them.
ISIL is a more radical offshoot of al Qaeda that has its roots in Iraq and expanded into Syria shortly after the start of the three-year insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad.
It controls much of Syria's eastern oil-producing Euphrates River region, and its lightning gains in Iraq's Sunni Muslim northern and western provinces over the last three weeks means ISIL now commands a large cross-border expanse of territory - in which Albu Kamal forms an important link.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Well, God bless Barack Obama – he’s found some “moderate” rebels in Syria. Enough to supply them with weapons and training worth $500m. Congress wants to arm these brave freedom fighters, you see. And Obama, having sent his 300 elite Spartan lads to Iraq to help Nouri al-Maliki fight the rebels there, needs to send help to the rebels in Syria – even though most of them are on the side of the rebels in Iraq whom Obama wants Maliki to defeat.
Confusing? You bet. So first steps first. Who are the “moderate” rebels whom Obama wants to train and arm? He doesn’t name them – and he can’t, because the original “moderates” whom America swore to arm (with the help of the CIA, the Brits, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey) were the so-called “Free Syrian Army”, mostly composed of deserters from Assad’s government forces. But the FSA – briefly beloved of John McCain until he discovered a pro-al-Qa’ida fighter sharing a photo-op with him in northern Syria – has decomposed.
(CNN) -- You cannot look away from the twin disasters befalling the people of Syria and Iraq. That is what President Barack Obama has realized.
More than three years after an uprising to topple Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad spun into a devastating civil war, Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to help arm and train the moderate Syrian opposition.
The head of Wales' counter-terrorism unit has denied that police are failing in their efforts to combat the radicalisation of young Muslims.
It comes after a video showed two young Cardiff men urging others to join a jihadist fight in Syria and Iraq.
Ahmed Muthana, the father of one of them, claimed police had failed to win the trust of Welsh Muslims.
South Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Holland said police could not "keep a hold of everybody".
Thursday, June 26, 2014
President Barack Obama has asked the US Congress to approve $500m (£294m) to train and equip what he described as "moderate" Syrian opposition forces.
The funds would help Syrians defend against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad, the White House said.
The aid would also counter Islamist militants such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), it added.
Isis's advance in neighbouring Iraq has led some in Congress to press Mr Obama to take action.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A man blew himself up at a hotel in the Beirut area of Raouche on Wednesday as General Security members stormed his room.
TV footage showed broken windows and flames shooting from the third and fourth floors of the Duroy Hotel, located in Raouche, close to the sea.
According to Lebanese Red Cross director George Kettaneh, eleven people were injured in the blast, including seven civilians and four General Security members.
They were all rushed to the American University of Beirut Medical Center.
“Ambulances have been scrambled to the blast scene where a suicide bomber blew himself up inside his room at the Duroy Hotel in Raouche during a General Security raid,” al-Jadeed television reported.
MTV said the suicide bomber was a Saudi national and quoted security sources as saying that “there are no other terrorists in the hotel.”
A suicide bomber blew himself up as security forces raided his hotel room in Beirut's Raouche district Wednesday evening, injuring at least 11 people, in the third such blast to strike Lebanon in less than one week.
Firefighters rushed to extinguish flames on the third floor of the Duroy Hotel near the Beirut seaside as police and army men cordoned off the area.
The interior ministry said that three members of the security forces and a second attacker were injured in the blast, including one policeman who was in critical condition.
Seven civilians were also wounded in the attack according, the Lebanese Red Cross said in a statement.
"It is noteworthy that it is the security precautions that are preventing the suicide bombers from reaching their targets," Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk told reporters outside the hotel, pointing out that the last two suicide bombers were stopped at security checkpoints.
BEIRUT: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Beirut hotel Wednesday evening during a security raid, wounding 11 people, a security source told The Daily Star, in the third explosion in less than a week.
The source said the bomber was a Saudi national and blew himself up in his room on the third floor of the Duroy Hotel in the bustling district of Raouche, a few meters away from the Saudi Embassy.
Security forces arrested a suspect at the hotel who the source said was a potential suicide bomber.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said the potential bomber was a Saudi national and was currently being treated at a Beirut hospital.
“This was a pre-emptive strike by General Security because the suicide bombers were supposed to carry out an attack in another location,” Machnouk told reporters at the site of the explosion.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jun-25/261585-explosion-heard-in-beiruts-raouche.ashx
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stated on Wednesday that efforts are ongoing to end the deadlock over the presidential elections, saying that the latest of such steps took place during his meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Tuesday, reported the Central News Agency.
He told the news agency: “Bkirki should call on Christian lawmakers, not just Maronites, and heads of other Christian sects to convene before al-Rahi, who should hold them to their responsibilities.”
“Al-Rahi should turn to those obstructing the presidential elections sessions by saying that they are obstructing the highest Christian national position in Lebanon, which will lead to turmoil in the country,” he added.
Asked by the news agency if he believes that all the MPs will comply with the patriarch's call, Geagea replied: “The absence of MPs will expose their true intentions.”
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Lebanese authorities have arrested six members of a criminal cell, including a university professor and two students, in the northern city of Tripoli, security sources said Wednesday.
The sources told The Daily Star that the cell, whose members have warrants out for their arrest, had been under surveillance.
They said the Lebanese Army's Counterterrorism Bureau made the arrests after raiding an apartment in the Tripoli neighborhood of Zahrieh late Tuesday.
The suspects include Wiam Mustafa, a 28-year-old professor at Lebanese French University (ULF) in the northern province of Koura, as well as Bilal al-Mustafa, an 18-year-old vocational student, and Abdul-Rahman al-Sayyed, a 23-year-old civil engineering student.
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army Wednesday briefly detained the cousin of fugitive Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir over last year’s clashes in the Sidon suburb of Abra.
Abdel-Rahman Riyad is being interrogated over his involvement in the June clashes between the Army and pro-Assir gunmen.
HABUR BORDER GATE, Turkey — In normal times, hauling 50,000 pounds of frozen chicken into Iraq is a routine job for Turfan Aydin, a Turkish trucker who has been working the route for years. But the cross-border trade has suddenly all but halted, locked up by the insurgent offensive in Iraq and the kidnapping of 80 Turkish citizens.
Once this border was wide open, as Turkey allowed rebel groups of any stripe easy access to the battlefields in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad. But that created fertile ground in Syria for the development of the Sunni militant group that launched a blitzkrieg in Iraq this month, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“For three years, we have seen ISIS flags in Syria, and that is because of Turkey,” Mr. Aydin said, eyeing hundreds of Iraq-bound trucks that snaked in a line over the horizon. “Turkey let them in.”
Now, with the rise of ISIS, the Turkish government is paying a steep price for the chaos it helped create.
BEIRUT: The terrorist cell arrested by the Army was planning to assassinate the head of General Security in north Lebanon, Lt. Col. Khattar Nassereddine, a security source said.
Describing Nassereddine as close to General Security Director General Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim , the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star that the five-member cell blamed the official for the arrest of “many young Muslims in the northern city of Tripoli.”
The suspects accuse the security chief of preparing reports for Lebanese Army intelligence about the activities of Muslim youths in Tripoli, the source said.
Nassereddine was also behind the controversial, brief arrest of Islamist Shadi Mawlawi in 2012.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Rebel mortar fire on Damascus killed five people Tuesday, state media said.
Five people were also wounded by the mortar fire on the south Damascus district of Kissweh, the state SANA news agency reported.
At least one person has been killed in a car bomb explosion in the western Syrian city of Homs, as the crisis continues in the Arab country.
Syrian media reports said that the bomb attack took place on Tuesday near a candy shop in the neighborhood of Wadi Dahab, leaving over 20 people injured.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the explosion, saying that 14 people were wounded in the incident.
Homs has been cleared of militants by the Syrian army, but car bomb explosions recurrently take place in the city.
A bomb attack claimed seven lives in Wadi Dahab on June 12 .
On May 12, the final group of foreign-sponsored Takfiris left the city as part of a deal reached between the Damascus government and the militants on May 4.
The positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the northern Iraqi city of al-Qaim were bombed by unknown fighter planes on Tuesday.
The White House denied U.S. planes carried out the airstrikes after an Iraqi television station reported that U.S. jets were behind the bombings.
Tribal sources told Al Arabiya News that Syrian fighter planes carried out the raids.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s air force has bombed Baiji - about 200km north of Baghdad, where ISIS fighters seized an oil refinery, according to Al Arabiya's correspondent.
After three months of relative security, Lebanon has been rocked by two car bombs in just four days, the second hitting a checkpoint near Tayyouneh in Beirut late Monday night while locals were watching a World Cup match.
On Friday, a suicide bomber detonated himself near a checkpoint in Dahr al Baydar, on a road that links Beirut to the Bekaa Valley and the Syrian border. Also on Friday, a hotel in the tourist-friendly Hamra district was raided with local media claiming they arrested operatives from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an Islamist extremist group that gained prominence fighting in Syria and made international news earlier this month with a storm operation through large parts of Iraq.
(CNN) -- The extremist Sunni militants sweeping across Iraq may have a singular goal, but there's a broad coalition of recruits from outside of the Middle East willing to help them achieve it.
The so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, wants to establish an Islamic state stretching from northern Syria into Iraq. And as the brutal terror group racks up victory after victory on the battlefield, more foreign fighters are considering joining their ranks.
A car bomb has exploded near a Lebanese army checkpoint in a southern suburb of the capital, Beirut, security officials and witnesses say.
Unconfirmed reports say a suicide bomber died and at least two other people were wounded in the blast.
Lebanon has suffered a rise in sectarian tension linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
Last week a policeman was killed and 30 people injured when a suicide bomber detonated his car in eastern Lebanon.
Explosion near Café Assaf in Tayouneh
Initial reports by Al-Jadeed said that the explosion was caused by a car bomb at a military checkpoint. An eyewitness told the news channel they had seen a white Mercedes go against traffic. The army then fired at the car before it exploded, damaging a nearby café.
Security sources have told Al-Akhbar that at least one person has been killed in the explosion, which took place 30 meters away from a military checkpoint near the entrance of Hadi Nasrallah freeway, near the Shatila roundabout.
The Red Cross confirmed that the suicide bomber was the only casualty. Medical sources estimated that between 12 and 15 people were injured.
Rumors that the suicide bomber was a woman spread on social media, but remained unconfirmed by Lebanese authorities.
This is the second bombing in Lebanon in less than a week, after three months of relative calm.
An explosion at a Lebanese military checkpoint shook the capital Beirut on Monday, Al Arabiya correspondent reported.
The cause of the explosion is not immediately known but initial reports pointed to a car bomb
Al Arabiya correspondent Adnan Ghamlouch said he saw at least five ambulances rushing to the scene of the blast, which occurred in an area of southern Beirut inhabited by supporters of the Shi'ite group Amal, an ally of the militant movement Hezbollah.
BEIRUT: Hezbollah fighters entered Tfail in east Lebanon over the weekend in search of Syrian opposition fighters reportedly seeking refuge in the embattled village, according to the local mukhtar and residents.
Ali Ashoum, Tfail’s mukhtar, told The Daily Star Hezbollah fighters entered the village Saturday morning in “a calm and orderly manner.”
“They haven’t arrested anyone, they haven’t taken any gunmen yet, and they aren’t interfering with the families there,” Ashoum said.
Monday, June 23, 2014
U.S lawmakers encouraged officials in Riyadh to arm Syrian rebels. Now that strategy may have created a monster in the Middle East.
“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January 2014. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” the senator said once again a month later, at the Munich Security Conference.
McCain was praising Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former ambassador to the United States, for supporting forces fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham had previously met with Bandar to encourage the Saudis to arm Syrian rebel forces.
The last of Syria's declared chemical weapons have been shipped out of the country for destruction, the international watchdog OPCW says.
"The ship has just left the port," the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in The Hague.
An investigation into alleged use of chlorine in Syria's civil war is still ongoing, Mr Uzumcu added.
More than 160,000 people have died in three years of the Syrian conflict.
The operation to completely destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile was meant to have been completed by 30 June but is now several months behind schedule.
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
Two years later, at the age of 14, he became a child soldier, training to join the ranks of rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra. He learned how to use weapons, make bombs and use mines. But when it came to fighting on the front line, he was scared.
At least 2,400 Tunisian jihadists are fighting in Syria, most of them rebels affiliated to the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Tunisia's interior minister said Monday.
"According to what we have gathered, there are 2,400 Tunisians who have gone to Syria to fight with Al Nusra Front and the majority of them -- 80 percent -- with (ISIL)," Lotfi Ben Jeddou told reporters, without specifying his source.
In February, the minister said Tunisian authorities had prevented 8,000 people from travelling to Syria, while some 400 Tunisians had already returned from fighting there.
ISIL, one of the main forces battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, controls certain key regions in northern and northeast Syria and has cut a swathe through northern Iraq in recent weeks.
K., 28, is on the line from Aleppo. He speaks to Al-Monitor via Skype, with a soundtrack of barrel bombs and gunfire, but that's no news — and not the source of the disappointment and dismay that mark his voice. A trainee doctor turned sniper, he was long one of about 5,000 men that the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (ISIS), the al-Qaeda offspring currently in the spotlight for its stunning gains in Iraq, is estimated to have deployed in Syria.
The UK should reintroduce tougher measures to restrict terror activities, a former independent reviewer of terrorism laws has said.
Lord Carlile said the government needed to act to protect the public.
His call comes as an ex-MI6 director said security services would not be able to track all Britons who return to the UK after fighting in Syria.
The Metropolitan Police has insisted it has the tools to monitor British jihadists returning from that country.
Several Britons - including Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana from Cardiff - have featured in an apparent recruitment video for jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
Nine Syrian military targets have been hit by Israeli jets and guided missiles, the IDF says, claiming it was a decisive response to a series of cross-border shootings to protect the citizens of Israel.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, “at least 10 members of the Syrian army were killed,” Reuters reported.
The strikes on targets in Golan Heights were carried out shortly after midnight, Haaretz reports citing an IDF official, who called it a direct response to Sunday’s deadly incident when an anti-tank projectile fired from Syrian territory struck near the border fence on the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.
The Syrian government has called Israeli airstrikes early Monday a 'flagrant violation,' as Israel's prime minister warns the warring parties in Syria against any attempt to heat up tensions with Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu spoke hours after Israel carried out a series of airstrikes in Syria in response to a cross-border missile attack Sunday that killed an Israeli teenager.
Speaking to members of his Likud Party Monday, Netanyahu said that Israel operated with "great force" against Syrian targets. "If needed," he said, Israel will use additional force.
Netanyahu says that Israel will continue to "forcefully hurt" anyone who tries to attack it.
Israeli air raids on several Syrian military facilities overnight killed at least 10 troops and destroyed an army command center, an activist group said Monday.
Syrian troops have killed 40 armed insurgents from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the Damascus suburb of al-Qaneitra, Al-Alam news website reported Monday.
During an interview with Lebanon-based El-Nashra newspaper, a Syrian military source said that the foreign-backed armed mercenaries were killed when positions of armed opposition groups were ambushed by Syrian army units.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
The Syrian government and rebel groups have reportedly agreed a truce in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.
A copy of the ceasefire deal, seen by the BBC, says the main entrances to the camp in Damascus will be opened and basic services will be restored.
About 18,000 people have been besieged since last July. Rights groups say more than 100 people have starved to death.
Syria has been engulfed in a bloody conflict between government and rebel forces over the past three years.
The ceasefire is said to include the Syrian regime, rebel groups based in Yarmouk and many Palestinian factions, Sana news agency reports.
The Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) has battled with rival opposition fighters in northern Syria, using US-made military vehicles captured from neighbouring Iraq for the first time, a monitoring group said.
ISIL, a splinter group of al-Qaeda which wants to set up an Islamic caliphate encompassing both Iraq and Syria, has made rapid gains in Iraq in the past two weeks, taking control of the northern city of Mosul and major border crossings with Syria.
Its advances in Iraq appear to have spurred on the Syrian branch, which is fighting both the army of President Bashar al-Assad and also rival opposition groups such as the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, a more moderate force.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The Resistance and the security forces on Monday foiled a terrorist attack targeting hospitals in Dahiyeh, Beirut's southern suburbs. The operation prevented the aftershocks of the Iraqi crisis from reaching Lebanon. However, the threat does not stop at the expected tragic effects of such an act, but involved the political masterminding that took such a decision.
The strict security measures imposed by the army, security forces and Hezbollah on Dahiyeh two nights ago [Monday] are still evident, especially around the area's hospitals. Putting aside the media and internet frenzy concerning the events in the past three days, the hospitals of Dahiyeh seem to have been under serious threat, putting official security forces and Hezbollah in a state of maximum alert.
Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh on Wednesday announced that any candidate must enjoy Syrian President Bashar Assad's approval to be elected a president in Lebanon, noting that the embattled Syrian leader would be “pleased” if Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun manages to reach the Baabda Palace.
“No president can be elected in Lebanon without Bashar Assad's consent,” Franjieh underlined during an interview with NBN television.
“Assad will be pleased if General Aoun becomes president and this is what he has announced and Aoun knows that Assad admires him,” Franjieh added.