"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, March 31, 2016

Military advisers, 2K pinpoint airstrikes: How Russia helped free Palmyra from ISIS- RT

Russian military advisers played an “active” role in planning the operation to free the ancient city of Palmyra from jihadists, while over 2,000 airstrikes conducted to support Syrian ground troops did not damage a single historic structure, Moscow says.
The entire operation to liberate the UNESCO World Heritage Site from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISISL/ISIS) militants took 22 days, starting on March 6 and ending on March 27, Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, head of operations at the Russian General Staff, reported on Thursday.
“Between March 7 and March 27 the Russian Air Force supported Syrian government units near Palmyra, conducted around 500 sorties and delivered over 2,000 airstrikes against ISIL,” he reported.

The Islamic State forbids remaining Christians from leaving Raqqa- Jihad Watch

“Christians were contractually obliged to pay the jizya, or minority tax, which in Islamic Sharia law is the amount of money paid by non-Muslims or ‘dhimmis’ in exchange for protection.”
That is straight from the Qur’an: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not practice the religion of truth, even if they are of the People of the Book — until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)
“Christians living under ISIS are not permitted to build any new churches, religious facilities, nor are they allowed to repair existing ones, cannot publicly show any crosses, pray or recite the Bible in public, are prohibited from any acts of aggression against the Islamic State, are forbidden from stopping the conversion of any Christian to the religion of Islam and cannot sell pork products or alcohol to any Muslims nor consume these products, forbidden in Islam, in public.”

UK Foreign Secretary Meets Lebanese Officials, Announces £19.8 Million to LAF- Naharnet

Visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond held talks on Thursday with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at his residence in Beirut’s Msaytbeh area.
The meeting did not take place at the Grand Serail because Salam is in mourning over his mother’s death.
Hammond said after the meeting that he discussed with the Lebanese PM Britain’s military support to Lebanon.
He pledged to continue in the future to consolidate Lebanon’s security in the confrontation with jihadists.
"We are delighted by the way that the UK support has been translated by the Lebanese armed forces in strengthening border security and enabling the armed forces to take the fight to Daesh and keep Lebanon safe from the incursions of Daesh," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
Hammond also held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri at Ain el-Tineh.

“Al-Qaeda” in Syria fears the settlement and rejects the cease-fire: the next target- elijahjm.wordpress.com

The Syrian opposition and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda in Syria, began to understand that the cease-fire is no longer in their best interest, especially since the Syrian army and its allies are turning all guns against the “Islamic State” group (ISIS). Al Qaeda in Syria believes that the cease-fire, a possible settlement, and democratic elections represent an existential threat to its existence. Its objective consists in establishing an Islamic State and certainly not a secular state. This is also the same approach of many within Ahrar al-Sham, the group that represents the largest number of militants in northern Syria. Other hardliner factions fighting under “Jaish al Fateh”, the Army of Conquest, also share the same ideology and objective with al-Qaeda.
Those groups believe that the Russian Air Force, the Syrian Army and its allies have won the battle of Palmyra only because of the cease-fire, that enable these to fully dedicate all forces against ISIS. Another battle has erupted, at the same intensity as the 18 days battle on Palmyra, on the Qaryateyn front, in Homs governorate, to defeat ISIS and expel it from the Syrian Eastern desert, opening the road to the strategic city of Deir-ezzour to break the siege and close the borders with Iraq. Russia appears to be imposing the rhythm of peace and war in Syria.

After Palmyra, Where Next for Assad? (Aron Lund- Carnegie Middle East)

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on March 27 retook the desert city of Palmyra, which had been lost to the self-proclaimed Islamic State in May 2015. Its loss came at a difficult time for Assad, whose exhausted and overstretched army waslosing territory on several fronts while the decaying economy in government-controlled areas was threatening to undo his regime from within. Given Palmyra’s location at the center of valuable gas fields and position as a nexus of major transportation routes in Syria’s eastern deserts, its loss compounded Assad’s problems. The government found itself with an expanded eastern frontline, with the Islamic State burrowing into the Qalamoun mountains, north of Damascus, and the Badiya region, where central Syria’s fertile plains around Homs and Hama fade into the desert.
A reversal of fortunes began on September 30, 2015, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s air force into action in Syria. Since the end of 2015, Assad has significantly improved his position in western Syria—where he is fighting other rebel and jihadi forces—and made limited advances against the Islamic State near Aleppo. The current push—which came after a truce with mainstream rebel factions—began on February 27 and marked the first major push east. Shortly after that Putin announced a somewhat disingenuous withdrawal from Syria on March 14.
Not only has Assad’s advance into Palmyra redrawn Syria’s military battlefield, but it also looks likely to accelerate the shift of its politics.

Down and out in Beirut- NOW

The former prime minister, Saad Hariri, must be wondering what he did wrong. The latest reason for his disbelief came because of an interviewgiven this week by the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon, Ali Awad al-Assiri, to Al-Araby al-Jadeed.

In remarks to the newspaper, Assiri was quoted as saying that Saudi Arabia did not intend to intervene in the Lebanese presidential election, but supported any candidate whom the Lebanese chose. He then added that the Kingdom had not backed Sleiman Franjieh, but rather had supported an initiative around which it thought there was a consensus. However, the ambassador added, “we did not see this consensus.”

Hariri is the main backer of a Franjieh presidency, and at the time Assiri’s comments were made he was traveling to Moscow to gauge Russian intentions toward the election. That’s why the ambassador’s comments were, effectively, a disavowal of the former prime minister’s position, and at a particularly sensitive moment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Assad: New Government Should Include Opposition and Regime- VOA

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose government has been bolstered by a series of recent military gains, is striking an optimistic tone about the prospects of peace talks aimed at ending his country's five-year-long civil war.
Speaking with Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency Wednesday, the embattled Syrian president said the international talks in Geneva should result in a government that includes both opposition representatives and officials loyal to his regime.
It would be "logical that independent forces, opposition forces, and forces loyal to the state would be represented" in a a new government, Assad said. "This is the aim of Geneva — intra-Syrian dialogue — during which we agree the format of the government," he said.

Assad to Sputnik: Why Didn't West Help Syria Liberate Palmyra From Daesh?- Sputnik News

The liberation of Palmyra with Russian support raised serious concerns about Western anti-terrorist campaign in Syria, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — The liberation of Palmyra with Russian support questions the seriousness of the US-led campaign against the Islamic State (also known as Daesh/ISIS/ISIL), Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik.

Beyaz Saray: Esed olursa başlamadan biter- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye rejimi lideri Beşşar Esed'in, geçiş hükümetinde hem rejimin hem de muhaliflerin temsil edilmesi gerektiği yönündeki röportajının ardından Beyaz Saray sözcüsü Earnest, Esed'in içinde olacağı hükümetin 'başlamadan biten bir girişim hükmünde' olacağını söyledi.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Syria's Assad says military gains will speed up political deal- Reuters

Syrian army successes will help accelerate a political settlement to the country's civil war, President Bashar al-Assad said, because they weaken the position of international opponents who he accused of hindering any agreement.
In an interview published as government forces, backed by heavy Russian air power, maintained an offensive against Islamic State militants, Assad said his government "continue to be flexible" in its approach to talks aimed at ending the war.
"However at the same time, these victories will have an impact on the forces and nations which hinder a settlement because those states, first of all, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France and Great Britain, are betting on our defeat on the battlefield in order to enforce their terms during the talks," he said.

He was speaking in an interview with Russia's RIA news agency published on Tuesday, two days after government forces backed by intense Russian air power drove Islamic State militants out of Palmyra, delivering one of the biggest setbacks to the jihadist group since it declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in 2014.

How Russian special forces are shaping the fight in Syria- The Washington Post

The troops that recently recaptured Palmyra, Syria, from the Islamic State included Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces. And on Monday, Russian officials said there was another group that contributed to the victory: Russia’s elite special forces, also known as Spetsnaz.
Russian troops are nothing new to the Syrian ground war. Since their arrival in September, the Russians have used naval infantry to secure a key port in Tartus and the perimeter of an airfield in Latakia. But Russian special forces operating on the front — aside from a small number of artillery and tank units — have remained mostly out of the public eye.

Monday, March 28, 2016

International Military Review - Syria: Liberation of Palmyra (Arab, Ger Subs)

Arkeologlar Palmira’ya dönüyor- Al-Jazeera Turk

Pazar günü Esed rejimi, Rus savaş uçaklarının hava desteğiyle Palmira’yı IŞİD’den geri aldı. Bugün de arkeologlar UNESCO Dünya Miras Listesi'ndeki antik kente giderek, Palmira’nın ne kadar hasar aldığını tespit etmeye başlayacak.
Palmira’daki AFP muhabiri Bel Tapınağı gibi pek çok eserin parçalara ayrıldığını, ancak kentteki çoğu yapının ise korunduğunu belirtti. Muhabire göre, savaştan önce 70 bin kişinin yaşadığı, antik kentin yanındaki yerleşim yeri ise tenha ve yıkık.
Suriye'nin tarihi eserlerden sorumlu yetkilisi Memun Abdülkerim, Palmira’nın beklediklerinden çok daha iyi durumda olduğunu söyledi. “En kötüsünü bekliyorduk. Palmira’yı tamamen kaybedebilirdik. Ne kadar keyifli olduğumu anlatamam” dedi.

Maronite Patriarch Praises Franco-Lebanese Ties- Ketaeb.org

Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi Monday praised the historical friendship that has always bound Bkirki and France together, hailing France as one of the few countries that still defends human life and the freedom of belief.
“We hope that France would remain an exemplary model for peace, justice, human rights, democracy and pluralism,” Rahi said during his Easter Mass sermon.

Syria has ‘no objection’ to work with US on ISIS- Al-Arabiya

Syria is willing to take part in an international coalition against terrorism but only if the United States will work with Damascus in a way it has not done so far, the Syrian envoy to Geneva peace talks said on Monday.

“The (U.S.-led) international coalition did not succeed in Syria because it did not coordinate with the regime. Russia was successful because it coordinated with us,” Bashar Ja’afari said in an interview with Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV.

“We are for the creation of an international coalition against terrorism, but in coordination with the Syrian government. We have no objection to working with America as long as it is done in coordination with Syria,” Ja’afari said.

Fighting between militant groups in Syria border region spills into Lebanon- Reuters

Fighting between Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front spread from Syria into Lebanon's northern Bekaa Valley region on Monday, a security source and the state news agency said.
Eighteen Nusra Front members were killed and six were taken prisoner during the clashes, and 14 Islamic State members were also killed, the security source said.
The fighting began on Sunday near the Syrian town of Jrajeer in the Qalamoun mountains near the Syrian-Lebanese border, before spreading toward the Lebanese towns of Ras Baalbek and Arsal, the source said.

Lebanon's National News Agency reported that Nusra Front had fought on Sunday to regain some positions it lost to Islamic State. In the fighting it said 10 Nusra Front fighters and eight Islamic State militants had died.

Syrian forces pursue campaign against Islamic State after retaking Palmyra- Reuters

Syrian government forces backed by Russian air strikes battled Islamic State insurgents around Palmyra on Monday, trying to extend their gains after taking back control of a city whose ancient temples were dynamited by the ultra-radical militants.
The loss of Palmyra on Sunday is one of the biggest setbacks for the jihadist group since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across large parts of Syria and Iraq. It is also a major victory for President Bashar al-Assad and ally Russia, casting them as critical to the international fight against Islamic State.

The Syrian army said the city, home to some of the most extensive ruins of the Roman Empire, would become a "launchpad" for operations against Islamic State strongholds in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, further east across a vast expanse of desert.

Robert Fisk: Why is David Cameron silent on the recapture of Palmyra?- The Independent

The biggest military defeat that isis has suffered in more than two years. The recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia. And we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn't they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn't we?
Less than a week after the lost souls of the 'Islamic Caliphate' destroyed the lives of more than 30 innocent human beings in Brussels, we should - should we not? - have been clapping our hands at the most crushing military reverse in the history of Isis. But no. As the black masters of execution fled Palmyra this weekend, Messers Obama and Cameron were as silent as the grave to which Isis have dispatched so many of their victims. He who lowered our national flag in honour of the head-chopping king of Arabia (I'm talking about Dave, of course) said not a word.
As my long-dead colleague on the Sunday Express, John Gordon, used to say, makes you sit up a bit, doesn't it? Here are the Syrian army, backed, of course, by Vladimir Putin's Russkies, chucking the clowns of Isis out of town, and we daren't utter a single word to say well done.

March 8 Officials Persuading Hizbullah to Drop Support for Aoun- Naharnet

March 8 alliance officials are seeking to convince Hizbullah to back Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh for the country's top Christian post, the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah newspaper reported on Monday.
The officials, who were not identified, are exerting efforts to persuade Hizbullah to drop its support for Free Patriotic Movement chief lawmaker Michel Aoun, it said.
According to the officials, Franjieh has better chances to be elected as head of state after he received the backing of al-Mustaqbal Movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri.
Hariri announced his backing for Franjieh late last year. His announcement was followed by a rapprochement between Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and Aoun.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Assad to French Lawmakers: Syria is ‘Too Small’ for Federalization- Sputnik News

President Bashar Assad told French lawmakers visiting Damascus on Sunday that Syria is too small for federalization, a member of the delegation told Sputnik after talks with the Syrian leader.

MOSCOW (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — Earlier in the day, a group of French lawmakers met with Assad in Damascus during their visit to the Middle East country.

"[Assad] emphasized that Syria is a small country and too small for implementing an idea of federalization, also due to the fact, that all communities are linked and closely woven together," Nicolas Dhuicq said.

He added that Assad believed Syrian Kurds' bid for federalization was a bad idea.

Palmyra falls as the caliphate is pushed back in Iraq and Syria- The Economist

IT WILL provide little solace to the people of Belgium, who are mourning the death of more than 30 people at the hands of Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers in Brussels on March 22nd. But in its own heartland the IS “caliphate” is weakening markedly and losing ground. One theory might be that the jihadists are lashing out abroad because they are being pushed back at home.
In the past 14 months IS is thought to have lost about a quarter of its territory. The group’s latest setback has come in Palmyra, which the Syrian army recaptured on March 27th after weeks of fierce fighting and Russian air strikes. It is the biggest victory yet for the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s embattled president, since Russia tipped the war in his favour. Palmyra, a World Heritage site, is home to many Greco-Roman ruins, some of which were destroyed by IS. It also allows the Syrian government and its Russian ally to argue more convincingly that they are fighting jihadists, and not just mainstream Sunni rebels.

Syria army vows to 'end ISIS' in Raqa, Deir Ezzor after Palmyra win- Daily Star

DAMASCUS: Syria's army vowed Sunday to follow its victory against ISIS in the city of Palmyra with an advance against the extremists in their other strongholds.
"Palmyra will be the central base to broaden operations... against Daesh in numerous areas, primarily Deir Ezzor and Raqa," the army said in a statement carried by state media, using an Arabic name for ISIS.
It pledged to "regain full control over" the cities and "end the terrorist presence there".

Irak ve Suriye'de 'toprak bütünlüğü' vurgusu- Al-Jazeera Turk

Ürdün'ü ziyaret eden Başbakan Davutoğlu, Suriye'deki krizlerin durmasını istediklerini belirterek, "Umarız ki Cenevre görüşmeleri Suriye halkının dileklerini karşılanacağı bir sonuca ulaşacaktır. Irak ve Suriye’nin toprak bütünlüğünün korunduğunu görmek istiyoruz" dedi.

President al-Assad: Palmyra achievement proves army strategy more effective than US-led coalition efforts- SANA

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad received on Sunday the visiting French delegation that includes parliamentarians, intellectuals, researchers and journalists.
The President said the delegation’s visit coincides with the army taking control of the ancient city of Palmyra, which was announced earlier today.
Having Palmyra in the army’s hands, he said, is an important achievement and new evidence of the effectiveness of the strategy followed by the Syrian army and its allies in the war against terrorism.
The effectiveness of this strategy is further highlighted especially as opposed to the US-led coalition involving more than sixty countries and its lack of seriousness in fighting terrorism and the very little it has achieved since its establishment one and a half years ago, added the President.
Commenting on the delegation’s visit, President al-Assad said such visits by parliamentary delegations and having them inspecting firsthand the reality of the situation in various Syrian cities and areas could be useful for them to efficiently work towards correcting the wrong policies and inadequate concepts adopted by some governments, including that of France, towards what is happening in Syria.
Those policies are not limited to providing cover to the terrorists, but have gone further to imposing unfair economic sanctions that have badly affected the living conditions of the Syrian people, the President added.
The French delegation members, for their part, expressed their solidarity with the Syrian people and affirmed that they will continue efforts towards helping in having the Syrians’ suffering alleviated and the economic blockade imposed on them lifted.
They voiced hope that stability and peace will be restored to Syria as soon as possible, highlighting the importance of maintaining the cultural diversity characterizing the country.
The situation in Syria was discussed during the meeting, with President al-Assad briefing the delegation on the latest developments on the military and political levels.

Syria civil war: Assad hails Palmyra recapture from IS- BBC News

President Bashar al-Assad has hailed the recapture of Palmyra from so-called Islamic State (IS) as an "important achievement" in the "war on terrorism".
A monitoring group has backed the Syrian government's claim that the city was recaptured overnight by the army.
Military sources say the Syrian army now has "full control" after days of fighting backed by Russian air strikes.
Meanwhile, Syria's antiquities chief said the damage to the ancient city was less than previously feared.
"We were expecting the worst. But the landscape, in general, is in good shape," Maamoun Abdulkarim told the AFP news agency.
He said he felt "indescribable joy" that the city had not been completely destroyed.
An on-the-ground assessment of the destruction will be carried out in coming days in order to develop restoration plans, Mr Abdulkarim said.

Syrian army retakes Palmyra from ISIS- RT

Syrian government forces have retaken the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State. The army now aims to use the desert city as a "launchpad" to expand operations against the terrorist group.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said the victory proves the success of the army's strategy in combating terrorism.
"The liberation of the historic city of Palmyra today is an important achievement and another indication of the success of the strategy pursued by the Syrian army and its allies in the war against terrorism," he told a French delegation on Sunday, according to Syrian TV.  

Putin praises Assad on Palmyra victory- Al-Arabiya

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday spoke by phone with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, congratulating him on his forces retaking Palmyra, the Kremlin said.
“In a conversation with the Syrian president, Vladimir Putin congratulated his colleague on Syrian forces liberating the city of Palmyra from terrorists, noting the importance of preserving this unique historic city for world culture,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, the Kremlin spokesman said Assad told Putin that Palmyra’s recapture would have been impossible without Russia’s help.
Syrian government forces on Sunday retook all of the ancient central city of Palmyra from ISIS, opening up a path into the militant group's eastern heartlands of Raqqa and Deir Azzor.

Army Command praises Palmyra victory, stresses Syrian army is the only force capable of eradicating terrorism- SANA

Damascus, SANA – The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces confirmed Sunday that Palmyra city and the mountains and hills overlooking it have now been under the army’s full control.
Security and stability were restored to Palmyra following a series of “precise and effective” military operations that were carried out by the army units with the help of the popular defense groups, being backed by the Syrian and Russian Air Forces, the Army Command said in a statement.
ISIS terrorist organization “has been dealt quite a severe blow” with Palmyra getting in the army’s hands, said the Army Command, adding that this achievement has the effect of hitting hard ISIS terrorists’ morale and pressing the start button of the organization’s collapse and defeat.
This achievement proves that “our brave army, aided by the friends, is the only effective force capable of fighting terrorism and eradicating it,” the statement said.
The Army Command clarified that the importance of today’s achievement stems from the significant strategic location of Palmyra city being a major link connecting the central, southern, eastern and northern areas, and from the historical and tourist status of the city as it stands witness to one of the most ancient human civilizations ever.

Russian military to take part in demining in Palmyra — Putin- TASS

The Russian leader congratulated the UNESCO director general Irina Bokova on the liberation of the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site, from terrorists
MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised that the Russian contingent in Syria will take part in demining works in Palmyra, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday after Putin’s telephone conversation with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

Rahi on Easter Message: Presidential Vacuum Paves Way for Naturalization of Refugees- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed on Sunday that the failure to elect a president destroys Lebanon's unity and makes it an open ground for the naturalization of refugees.
“Refraining from electing a president for over two years now is gradually destroying our internal unity and Lebanon's position at the international level. It makes our country a free ground for the naturalization of refugees,” al-Rahi stated during the Easter mass held in Bkirki.
“Lebanon's officials and people refuse that the return of Syrian refugees is voluntary matter, similar to what happened with the Palestinian refugees,”he added.
“We asked the international bodies that the Syrian and Palestinian refugees return (to their land). That is exactly what we told (U.N. Secretary General) Ban Ki-moon,” he stated.
On Friday, the Patriarch handed the United Nations Secretary General, who was on an official visit to Lebanon, a memo on the ongoing presidential vacuum during talks they held at Bkirki.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Syrian army, with Russian air support, advances inside Palmyra- Reuters

Syrian government forces advanced into Palmyra on Saturday with heavy support from Russian air strikes, taking control of several districts in a major assault against Islamic State fighters, Syrian state media and a monitoring group said.
Television footage showed waves of explosions inside Palmyra and smoke rising from buildings, as tanks and armored vehicles fired from the outskirts.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the biggest assault in a three-week campaign by the Syrian army and allied militia fighters to recapture the desert city and open up the road to Islamic State strongholds further east.
Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said Syrian soldiers and allied militias had taken control of one-third of Palmyra, mainly in the west and north, including part of the ancient city and its Roman-era ruins. Soldiers were also fighting on a southern front, he said.

Syrian media and Arab television channels broadcasting from the slopes of Palmyra's medieval citadel, one of the last areas of high ground seized by the army on Friday, said troops had advanced inside Palmyra and had taken several neighborhoods.

Maronite Patriarch Hands Ban Memo on Presidential Elections- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi handed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a memo on the ongoing presidential vacuum during the talks they held on Friday, reported An Nahar daily on Saturday.
The memo includes a demand that the international community assume its responsibilities towards Lebanon regarding the presidential deadlock.
It said that the elections “are no longer an internal affair, but they have taken on Arab and regional aspects, which requires the U.N. and Security Council to intervene.”
Bishop Boulos Sayyah told al-Joumhouria newspaper that Ban was the first to bring up the issue of the presidential impasse during his meeting with al-Rahi.
He told the patriarch that the Lebanese people must elect a head of state because the vacuum is leading to instability and the paralysis of state institutions, to which al-Rahi replied that the polls have become linked to external affairs.

Tribalism Drives Middle East Violence- Middle East Forum

Take a look at recent news reports from around the Arab world and you'll notice an unusual commonality. Egypt's government "struggles to rally Sinai tribes," reads one Reuters headline, while the title of a Gulf News article recounts that former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh "fears tribes will shift allegiance" to his successor, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The Oxford Research reports on the "local, tribal and fragmented" nature of militia power in Libya. CNN covers a U.S. special forces mission to "accompany tribal, Arab and Kurdish forces" in Syria. From theBBC, "Iraqi tribes clash with jihadists in IS stronghold of Falluja." The UAE daily The National proudly notes the "tribal and military influences" in local designer Huda Al Nuaimi's spring/summer 2016 collection.

Ok, you get the idea – tribalism is big in the Arab world. And while it has grown more noticeable with the collapse and weakening of Arab governments in recent years, the trend is not new. The same north Arabian Bedouin tribes that accepted Islam and spread it by the sword also infused the region with a deeply tribal culture, impacting everything from family relations to governance and conflict.

Syria government says will restore ancient Palmyra- Yahoo News

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Palmyra's ancient Roman temples and archway, blown up by Islamic State fighters last year, will be restored once Syria recaptures the city from the ultra-hardline Islamist group, the head of the antiquities authority said on Saturday.
Mamoun Abdelkarim told Reuters he hoped Palmyra would be retaken within days, after government forces fought their way into the western and northern parts of the city, and promised to revive the Roman-era monuments "as a message against terrorism".
Islamic State militants dynamited the temples of Baal Shamin and Bel, as well as funeral towers and a triumphal arch, which had stood for 1,800 years in the oasis city described by the U.N. cultural agency as a crossroads of cultures since the dawn of humanity.
The group's acts of cultural destruction in Syria and neighboring Iraq, which it documented and broadcast with the same thoroughness as its shooting, beheading, drowning and burning of prisoners, were condemned by the U.N. as war crimes.
Despite that damage, Abdelkarim said film footage he had seen from Palmyra in recent days, including some taken by a drone flying over the old city, had been reassuring.
Many structures were still standing, he said, including the walls around the Temple of Bel, the amphitheatre, the long colonnaded avenue and Palmyra's striking tetrapylon - a platform with four columns at each corner.
But he said it would be impossible to assess the real scale of the damage until a team was able to visit the city, which has been under Islamic State control since May last year.

Jumblat: Gulf Measures against Lebanon Result of Nasrallah and Bassil's Responses- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat said on Sunday that the measures taken by Gulf countries against Lebanon were the result of fiery statements made by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the ill-defined stances of Foreign Minster Jebran Bassil.
“The Gulf measures against Lebanon were the result of the convulsive statements made by Nasrallah and the ambiguous stances of Bassil,” Jumblat told the daily al-Arab in an interview.
Relations between Riyadh and Lebanon deteriorated in February, when Saudi Arabia halted a grant to the army in protest against Hizbullah's virulent criticism of the kingdom and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil's abstention from voting in favor of Arab League resolutions condemning attacks against the Saudi embassy in Iran in January.
The kingdom urged its citizens against traveling to Lebanon.
Gulf countries also issued similar advisories.
On the U.S. restrictions on Hizbullah, Jumblat said that the Lebanese delegations that went to Washington to counter the effect of the measures following the nuclear agreement with Iran are not sufficient: “The U.S. measures against Hizbullah are linked to the Pentagon and the U.S. Department of Finance. The Delegations that visited Washington to refine the positions are not sufficient.”
On the stalled presidential elections he stated that his political party and the March 14 camp are ready to elect a president, he said: “I do not think that Hizbullah and Iran can tolerate the collapse of the financial and economic situation in Lebanon for another year of two.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

International Military Review – Syria, Mar. 25, 2016 (Arab, Ger Subs)

Ahrar-u Şam, De Mistura’nın belgesini reddetti- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye’deki en etkili silahlı gruplardan biri olan Ahrar-u Şam’ın lideri Muhanned Masri, BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan de Mistura’nın açıkladığı 12 maddelik belgeyi reddettiklerini söyledi.

The army establishes control over Palmyra Castle- SANA

Homs, SANA -Army units, in cooperation with popular defense groups, established control over Palmyra Castle after inflicting heavy losses on ISIS terrorists.
The army has been edging closer to Palmyra as its units continue fighting ISIS terrorists in the vicinity of the ancient city, located in eastern Homs.
A military source has announced earlier that an army unit, in cooperation with the popular defense groups, established control over the Syriatel hill near Palmyra Castle.
Army units combed the hill after destroying the last hideouts of ISIS terrorist organization and dismantled the explosive devices left behind by its members.

ISIS prepares to launch an east Aleppo offensive- Al-Masdar News

Three weeks after losing the eastern countryside of the Khanasser Plains, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has decided to launch a large-scale counter-offensive to recapture several kilometers of territory in east Aleppo. 

According to the Russian Defense Minister, intelligence reports revealed that the terrorist group has mobilized a large force in order to counter-attack the Syrian Armed Forces near the strategic cities of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer. 

If true, this would be the perfect time for ISIS to attack the Syrian Armed Forces in east Aleppo; this is due to the large number of inexperienced soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that have been tasked to replace the veteran “Tiger Forces” in the Al-Safira and Deir Hafer plains.


Russian Warplanes Carry Out 41 Sorties Amid Palmyra Liberation- Sputnik News

Russian warplanes carried out 41 sorties to support Syrian army's operation aimed at Palmyra's liberation, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russian military jets destroyed 146 terrorist targets over the past two days, the ministry said Friday in a daily bulletin.
"From Tuesday to Thursday, Russian Aerospace Forces' warplanes conducted 41 sorties to support the Syrian army's advance and launched strikes on Daesh militants near Palmyra in the province of Homs. Russian aviation destroyed 146 terrorist targets, including command centers, ammunition depots, artillery systems, tanks and automotive vehicles," Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko said.

Islamic State Finance Minister Killed by US Forces- VOA

U.S. forces have killed Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, an Islamic State finance minister also responsible for the terrorist group's external affairs, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Friday.
"We are systematically eliminating ISIL's Cabinet," Carter said, using an acronym for the terrorist group.
Carter would not say whether Qaduli, also known as Hajji Iman, was killed in Iraq or Syria, nor would he say whether the IS leader was killed in a raid or an airstrike.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Suriye Ordusu Palmira'ya girdi- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye'de Esed yönetimine bağlı güçler, geçen yıl Mayıs ayında IŞİD'in eline geçen tarihi kent Palmira'ya girdi.

Islamic State conflict: Iraqi forces launch operation to retake Mosul- BBC News

Iraqi forces have launched an operation to retake the northern city of Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS), officials say.
The first part of the long-awaited offensive has recaptured several villages, the Iraqi military has said.
The operation has been supported by air strikes from the US-led coalition, Kurdish Peshmerga troops and a Shia-dominated paramilitary force.
Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, has been under IS rule since June 2014.
An offensive to retake the city, where two million people lived before IS took over, has been in preparation for months.
Officials say the aim is to seize it within the year, but experts have questioned the ability of Iraqi forces to do so.

Russian special forces active in Syria, give recon & targeting for warplanes, general confirms- RT

Russia’s special forces are involved in the Syrian campaign and have helped with locating targets for Russian warplanes, the general who commanded the entire operation has confirmed in an interview.
Col. Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov is deputy commander of the Central Military District in Russia, and was selected to be chief of Russia’s campaign in Syria, which started in September last year. On Wednesday he spoke of previously undisclosed aspects of the operation in a rare interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.
“I won’t deny that our Special Operations Forces (SOF) are deployed in Syria. They conduct ground reconnaissance of pre-selected targets for Russian warplanes, assist in targeting warplanes in remote areas and perform other tasks,” the general said.
“Take into account that corresponding forces from the US and other members of the [US-led] coalition are performing similar missions in Syria,” he added.