"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)
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The army's leadership has reportedly “refused” to accept controversial decrees related to the promotion of army officers handed back to the defense ministry by the finance minister after he refused to sign them, asking said minister to provide “written answers” to the reasons and circumstances that justify the decision, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Sources following up closely on the new row between President Michel and Speaker Nabih Berri over the decree said: “It seems the row will find no close solution and the crisis will be wide open with the new year beginning.”
The row is likely to escalate “if the ministry of defense took advantage of promotions as a fait accompli and did not respond to the letter of the minister of finance, in which he requests evidence on the legal grounds to upgrade a number of officers who did not fulfill conditions according to years of service.”
The officers in question were undergoing their first year of officer training at the Military Academy when Syrian forces ousted Aoun’s military government from Baabda in 1990. They were suspended by the pro-Damascus authorities until 1993 before they resumed their officer training course as second-year cadets.
Friday, December 29, 2017
President Michel Aoun on Friday reassured that Lebanon's future “will be better than its past.”
“Lebanon's future will be better than its near and distant past, because we will build a state no matter how hard things may be,” Aoun told an expat delegation at the Baabda Palace.
“Very soon we will be able to revitalize the economic and financial situations in order to restore prosperity,” the president said.
Syrian Army Capture Strategic Village Of Abu Dali, Several Other Villages In Southern Idlib- South Front
On December 29, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces captured the strategic village of Abu Dali in the southern Idlib countryside, according to the SAA media department. The sources said that several fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) were killed during the SAA attack on Abu Dali.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese politicians on Thursday criticized Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil over a television interview in which he was shown saying that Lebanon did not have an ideological problem with Israel and was not against it having security.
Despite the Syrian opposition’s failure to oust President Bashar al-Assad militarily, Congress hopes that it can use US reconstruction dollars as leverage to force a political transition in Syria by ensuring that funds are only available for rebel-held areas.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says the attack might be a staged provocation aimed at derailing the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.
MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. The missile attack against Russia’s Hmeymim base by terrorists could be a staged provocation aimed at derailing the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be held in Sochi, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a press briefing.
"On December 27, militants fired several missiles from the Bdama inhabited community at Latakia International Airport and the Russian Aerospace Forces’ deployment site in Hmeymim. Two of them were intercepted by Russia’s Pantsir air defense system, while the third one, deviating from the trajectory, landed in the outskirts of the city of Jebla," she said.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri reassured Thursday that “every crisis has a solution,” in reference to his spat with President Michel Aoun over a controversial decree.
“There is a Constitution, so let it be implemented, and every crisis has a solution,” Berri's visitors quoted him as saying.
“The country should be the winner and what's important is to safeguard it and preserve its unity,” the Speaker added.
The Aoun-Berri spat broke out after the president and Premier Saad Hariri signed a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers. Berri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil have insisted that the decree should have also carried the finance minister's signature.
Aoun and his aides have argued that the decree did not require Khalil's signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him have argued against.
President Michel Aoun on Thursday reassured an Army Command delegation that “no one's rights will be usurped,” in connection with a growing row with Speaker Nabih Berri over a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers.
“You remained loyal to your oath and you did not have any shortcomings in any mission... Forget about the political statements you are hearing,” Aoun told the delegation during a meeting at the Baabda Palace.
“We will continue to do justice to the eligible beneficiaries and our decision to grant promotions was aimed at compensating then over a flaw that happened in the past,” the president added.
And pledging that “there will be no violations and no one's rights will be usurped,” Aoun pointed out that “the current debate is not related to the rights of the armed forces but rather to a political conflict over other issues.”
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Speaker Nabih Berri is “still clinging to his constitutional and legal viewpoint regarding the officers decree and whoever tries to depict the issue as being targeted against Christians would be mistaken,” MP Ali Bazzi of Berri's Development and Liberation bloc said.
“Speaker Berri does not approach things in this manner and maybe if his opinion had been taken into consideration there would have been more than one solution,” Bazzi told reporters after the Speaker's weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain el-Tineh.
“There is no political clash, but perhaps there are parties who are offering advices in contravention of the Constitution and the law,” Bazzi added.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, who is also Berri's political aide, meanwhile said that had he received the decree to sign it, “there would not have been a constitutional problem.”
Berri and Khalil have insisted that the decree, which grants one-year seniority to a number of officers, should have carried the finance minister's signature along with the signatures of the president and the premier.
“Anything based on something illegal would be illegal,” Khalil added, noting that similar decrees related to the Internal Security Forces had been referred to the finance minister and that “the Finance Ministry's role is not restricted to expenditure but also to the impact of expenditure.”
Aid workers have begun evacuating emergency medical cases from Syria's besieged rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, the Red Cross said on Wednesday, after months of waiting during which the United Nations said at least 16 people died.
Families waited in the darkness in the rebel-held town of Douma for their loved ones to board ambulances bound for hospitals in the capital Damascus.
Under a deal with the government, five workmen detained by the rebels during fierce clashes with the army in March were released in exchange.
Three children were among the first four patients to leave, Red Crescent official Ahmed al-Saour told AFP.
He said in total 29 seriously ill people were due to be evacuated.
The first four were a girl with haemophilia, a baby with the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barre, a child with leukaemia, and a man in need of a kidney transplant, he said.
Eight-year-old Ingy, the girl with haemophilia, gave a broad smile as she boarded an ambulance, wearing a woolly hat and gloves against the cold.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Previously on this blog I have sought to explore the Iranian-backed Local Defence Forces (LDF) networks beyond Aleppo province (where it is most prominent), such as the Damascus LDF affiliate Saraya al-Wa'ad. There are also LDF affiliates with visible profiles in Hama province, such as Quwat al-Ghadab based in the Christian town of Suqaylabiyah. When I first wrote about Quwat al-Ghadab, I had not quite appreciated the LDF connection, though the description of it as part of 'Quwat al-Asdiqa" ('Forces of the Friends') became clearer to me over time in alluding to the Iranian role (more specifically, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps- IRGC) in backing this group and other LDF units.
Saraya al-Ra'ad is another LDF affiliate currently based in Hama but in fact is affiliated with the LDF Idlib sector. Although this point may seem confusing at first sight considering that Idlib is almost entirely in the hands of insurgents, an Idlib sector for the LDF was specified in legislation earlier this year regarding the LDF and military services. That is, that the government presence in a particular province may be/may have been limited does not mean no LDF sector was specified for it. A similar point has applied to Deir az-Zor province, where no LDF branch had been operating on the ground when I last inquired but an LDF sector was specified for it in the legislation.
More than three dozen Syrian rebel groups, including influential Islamists, have rejected a Russian-led initiative for talks next month in Sochi on ending Syria's war.
Russia and Iran, both key allies of Syria's regime, agreed with opposition backer Turkey on Friday to hold a "Congress of National Dialogue" in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29 and 30.
Syria's government swiftly said it would attend but rebels have pushed back, calling it a Russian bid to eclipse a United Nations-led process in Geneva.
"We completely reject Russia's attempt to circumvent the Geneva track," the rebels said in a joint statement published Monday.
"We call on all forces to stand in one rank against these alarming dangers."
It was signed by 40 factions, including Islamist powerhouse Ahrar al-Sham and groups that have been backed by the United States such as the Mutasem Brigades.
Some of the factions played a significant role in the rebellion since the war broke out in 2011 but most have either been sidelined by other groups or control only small pockets of land.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has started forming a permanent group in Syria's Tartus and Hmeymim, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a conference call.
Monday, December 25, 2017
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Monday warned against “the elimination of any component” while stressing that Lebanon should not restrict public freedoms.
“Lebanon cannot bear the monopolization of power and posts, the elimination of any of its components, or the restriction of the public freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution, topped by the freedoms of opinion and belief and consequently the freedoms of press, publishing and expression,” al-Rahi said in his Christmas Day sermon in Bkirki.
“These freedoms must be regulated according to their laws and codes of ethics, seeing as diversity and freedom are twins that represent the joy of the Lebanese,” the patriarch added.
His remarks come amid concerns that there are attempts to “isolate” certain political parties, such as the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party. They also come amid an outcry over the judiciary’s summoning of prominent talk show host Marcel Ghanem.
Suriyeli 55 aşiretin lideri, Hatay’ın Reyhanlı ilçesinde toplandı. Aşiret liderleri, Esad rejimi ile DEAŞ, PKK, PYD gibi tüm terör örgütlerine karşı birlik beraberlik içerisinde hareket etme kararı aldı.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed in his Christmas message on Saturday the need to value the freedom of the press, after several encounters in Lebanon that saw lawsuits against journalists, as he asked the State to shoulder responsibility for private school teachers' salary increase demands.
“The Lebanese fear an authoritarian slide towards patterns aiming to restrict the freedom of the press for political or malicious purposes. The judiciary should never be politicized,” said the Patriarch.
The Maronite's remarks came after Thursday's demonstration where a number of civil society groups rallied outside the Justice Palace in Beirut in support of press freedom and to reject “the muzzling of voices.”
The demonstration came in the wake of the prosecution of Marcel Ghanem, one of Lebanon's most prominent talk show hosts, over an episode in which he hosted Saudi journalists who labeled the Lebanese president and parliament speaker as “terrorists.”
Turning to the private school teachers' demands for an increase in salary, Rahi said: “Private schools, mainly Catholic ones, should be concerned with preserving the rights of teachers and relieving the burden of the students' parents. The State must pay the difference resulting from the wage scale approval.”
Friday, December 22, 2017
Talks began Thursday between representatives from Syria's government and opposition, as well as guarantor states Turkey, Russia and Iran.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Thursday that “this is the best time to invest in Lebanon,” after the Lebanese showed “wisdom” during the November political crisis.
“This is the best time to invest in Lebanon because, thanks to this political stability and security in our country, we have been able to establish that the country is capable of confronting crises in a wise manner,” Hariri said during a discussion with the participants in the Global Business Summit, organized by Endeavor Lebanon and LIFE at the Four Seasons Hotel.
He added that the government's goal is to ensure that the fiscal deficit will not increase from 2017 to 2018, and that the country will be able to meet all financial challenges next year.
“Over the course of this year, we achieved many things. People did not believe at first and thought that this consensus could explode at any time. But it enabled us to overcome a very difficult situation in a wise way,” Hariri said.
Rusya Dışişleri Bakanı Sergey Lavrov, Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan De Mistura ile yaptığı görüşmede, bazı aktörlerin Suriye çözüm sürecini zora sokmaya çalıştıklarını belirtti.
Lavrov, Rusya Savunma Bakanı Sergey Şoygu’nun da katıldığı, Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan De Mistura ile düzenlenen görüşmede yaptığı açılış konuşmasında, “Moskova’ya gelme ve Suriye çözüm sürecinin şu anda hangi aşamada olduğu konusunda görüş paylaşımında bulunma davetimizi kabul ettiğiniz için size minnettarız. Bazı aktörlerin bu süreci zora sokmak için kullanmaya çalıştığı birçok faktör var” ifadelerini kullandı.