Eleven factions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in northern Syria announced on Monday that they would unite under the name of the National Front Liberation.
"In response to past failures, and in an effort to cooperate with our brothers in the coming responsibility, the signatory factions sought a new formation called the National Front Liberation (FNL)," the statement said.
The new body included the Sham Corps, Free Idlib Army, the 1st Coastal Division, the Second Army, the Second Coastal Division, Jashy Al-Nokbha, the 1st Infantry Division, Jaish al-Naser, the 23rd Division, Liwa Al-ShudaIslam and Liwa Al-Hur.
According to information got by Syria Call "Nedaa Syria from sources within the new formation, the commander will be Colonel "Fadlallah Al-Hajji", and his deputy Lieutenant Colonel "Suhaib Biosh" and the Chief of Staff Major "Mohammed Mansour."
"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, May 28, 2018
Sunday, May 20, 2018
What the Russians are discussing at Astana is an amended formula to a former agreement, one that keeps no light arms in southern Syria.
BEIRUT - The ninth round of Syrian peace talks wrapped up in Astana on May 15 with several topics on the agenda, including confidence-building measures, the fate of prisoners, outcomes of the Sochi Conference of January 2018 and, more importantly, the future of the now dysfunctional “de-conflict zones” in the Syrian battlefield.
Present were three of Syria’s main foreign players — Russia, Iran and Turkey, with Damascus and rebel groups all sending delegates to the talks. Two main absences were noted at Astana IX. One was Mohammad Alloush of Jaysh al-Islam. He had led the opposition delegation to all previous rounds. He stepped down in early May after his army was defeated and ejected from Douma, the principal town of the Damascus countryside. Replacing him is a politician rather than a militant, Ahmad Tomeh, a mosque preacher turned dentist and then politician. He is from the town of Deir ez-Zor along the Euphrates River.
The second absence was that of the United States, which has enjoyed the status of “observer” at the Astana talks since February 2017. None of the three guarantors seemed to mind the American no-show, with Russian presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentyev using it to continue hammering out an endgame to the Syrian conflict, tailor-made to fit the liking of his boss, Vladimir Putin.
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
Monday, May 07, 2018
The army deployed Monday evening across the capital Beirut, after the Aisha Bakkar area and other neighborhoods witnessed post-elections security incidents.
The National News Agency said “gunmen on motorbikes raised partisan flags on the monument of Martyr Premier Rafik Hariri in the St. Georges area before moving to Aisha Bakkar, where they attacked a number of vehicles and opened fire without causing casualties.”
A video circulated on social media showed a fistfight that involved the use of batons near the Aisha Bakkar Mosque. The clash erupts after dozens of young men arrive in the area on motorbikes, carrying Hizbullah flags. The video shows them clashing with young men carrying al-Mustaqbal Movement flags.
A statement issued by Prime Minister Saad Hariri's office said the premier called Army chief General Joseph Aoun and Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman to ask them to “contain the chaos in Beirut and take the necessary measures as soon as possible before things spiral out of control.”
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Monday announced “final yet incomplete” results of the parliamentary elections that were held on Sunday, noting that the results of the Akkar district are yet to be officially released.
“These results are final but incomplete and unofficial seeing as the Akkar results have not been completed and they do not carry the signature of the relevant authority,” Mashnouq said at a press conference.
Commenting on controversy over the result of the minorities seat in Beirut's first district, Mashnouq confirmed the win of Antoine Bano of the Free Patriotic Movement and the loss of Joumana Haddad of the Koullouna Watani civil society coalition, after her campaign and rival campaigns had announced her victory overnight.
Mashnouq stressed that “no ballot boxes are missing” despite delay in the transfer of some boxes and records.
The minister also announced the win of the candidate Farid al-Bustani of the FPM in the Chouf-Aley district, after media reports had declared Naji al-Bustani of the Reconciliation List as the winner.
Below are the results as announced by Mashnouq:
- Beirut 1 district: Nicolas Sehnaoui, Jean Talouzian, Nadim Gemayel, Imad Wakim, Hagop Terzian, Paulette Yacoubian, Antoine Bano and Alexander Matousian
- Beirut 2 district: Amin Sherri, Saad Hariri, Adnan Traboulsi, Fouad Makhzoumi, Tammam Salam, Mohammed Khawaja, Roula al-Tabsh, Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Nazih Najm, Edgard Traboulsi and Faysal al-Sayegh
Hizbullah was poised to seal a win in Lebanon Monday with results for the decade's first general election expected to confirm the Iran-backed party as the main winner.
The polls were also marked by a low turnout of 49.2 percent and the emergence of a civil society movement challenging Lebanon's oligarchs that could clinch a pair of seats in parliament.
Lebanon's sectarian-based power-sharing politics mean no single alliance in the 128-seat parliament will enjoy a stable majority and analysts expect a fragile status quo to be preserved.
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq announced the turnout figure at a news conference shortly after midnight and appeared to blame it on the new electoral law agreed last year.
"This is a new law and voters were not familiar with it, nor were the heads of polling stations," he said. "Voting operations were very slow."
As provisional estimates trickled in, some candidates' supporters started celebrating in the streets after a polling operation marred only by a few violations but no major incident.
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Prime Minister Saad Hariri voted Sunday at the Shakib Arslan School in Verdun, Beirut, and reassured that he does not fear a security deterioration after the parliamentary elections.
While waiting for his turn, Hariri said in response to a question: “Order is nice.”
He added that he is committed to the principle of electoral silence.
Hariri however responded to questions from reporters after leaving the polling station.
“I performed my electoral duty and cast my vote like any Lebanese. I think that if we look at what is happening around us and how Lebanon is holding democratic elections, we see that the country is fine,” he said.
President Michel Aoun cast his vote on Sunday in the country’s parliamentary elections and voiced calls on all Lebanese citizens to practice their “national, democratic right out of conviction.”
“Today the Lebanese are practicing one of the important national political operations where they get to choose MPs who will represent them for the next four years. They must not relinquish their duty to hold lawmakers accountable for their performance,” Aoun told reporters after casting his ballot at a polling station in Haret Hreik.
The President encouraged Lebanese to act out of conviction without “outside influences.”
“It is a sacred right of yours that you should not abandon,” he added.
The new legislation — Law #10 — stipulates that ravaged parts of Syria are up for reorganisation, development and reconstruction.
BEIRUT- Syrians are fretting over a real estate development law, passed in April, that many say strips millions of their property, especially within flattened towns such as Darayya and Douma in the Damascus countryside. It certainly benefits the Syrian government, which wrote the law, given that all unclaimed property will be taken over by the state.
The new legislation — Law #10 — stipulates that ravaged parts of Syria are up for reorganisation, development and reconstruction. To prove one’s claim to the destroyed property, people must report in person with real estate documents within a period of 30 days. No anti-regime Syrian living abroad can do that nor can those evading the draft, given that all have arrest warrants awaiting them.
A small loophole exists, however, allowing fourth-degree relatives to deputise on their behalf but proxy authorisation requires a security clearance, which would be denied if any of the stakeholders involved are on the “wanted” list. Many ownership documents no longer exist, torched in homes or the basements of government agencies, often making it impossible to prove one’s right to land or real estate.
Many of the refugees left their homes in fear and haste, leaving documents behind. Property that remains unclaimed will be automatically taken by the government and used for official purposes or sold at public auction. Those who do prove their right to land or real estate should be compensated accordingly by private sector companies working on reconstruction.
The new legislation builds on a 1974 law that calls for compensation of citizens whose homes were destroyed by fire, earthquakes or other natural disasters. It is riddled with contradictions, lawmakers claim, and plenty of legal glitches.
Saturday, May 05, 2018
Law change was meant to make room for political plurality but old traditions of patronage are hard to break down.
Nine years and two collapsed governments since the last election, Lebanon goes to the polls on Sunday with leaders touting a new beginning for a country bedevilled by debt and dysfunction, but voters fearing more of the same.
The long-awaited parliamentary election had been hailed as a potential turning point for a state beset by decades of war, a turbulent domestic scene and a neighbouring crisis that has posed new threats.
As polling day has drawn nearer, however, it has become increasingly likely that the result will reaffirm the status quo of a powerful, elite-run patronage network with entrenched channels of influence.
For opponents of prime minister Saad Hariri’s government, this spells trouble. “The country is going through serious social, economic and political challenges that will translate into disastrous consequences if the same elite runs the country, with the same mindset that it did the last 30 years,” said Gilbert Doumit, a candidate in Beirut for a new list, Kulna Watani.
At 7:00 am Sunday Lebanon will launch its first legislative elections in nine years under “tight security measures,” ensuring a calm electoral process.
1,800 ballot boxes in 7,000 polling stations will open Sunday around various Lebanese districts. Some 21,000 security personnel from the Internal Security Forces, the State Security and General Security will be in charge inside polling stations. Meanwhile, the army will maintain security around the centers and roads leading to it, al-Joumhouria daily said Saturday.
Army units carried out their deployment yesterday in all areas of Lebanon according to a security plan in which additional units were allocated to areas considered “exceptional.” They were marked with "red" to prevent any security repercussions as the result of “atmosphere of electoral tension” in areas of “heated” electoral confrontations at the political and sectarian levels, added the daily.
Previous writings have explored the lives of a number of deceased and living members of the Islamic State affiliate Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed that is located in the Yarmouk Basin. So far, those profiles have not documented individuals with origins from the east Deraa countryside (i.e. the area of rebel-held territory in Deraa province east of the strip of government-controlled territory running down the centre of the province). This post looks into two individuals of Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed from an east Deraa countryside town called al-Karak al-Sharqi: Abu Hussein al-Karaki and Abu Yahya al-Karaki. As far as is known, they are the only two people from the town who joined the group.
The main families in al-Karak al-Sharqi are:
Of these families, the al-Asafira have affiliations with the al-Nu'aim tribe, while the al-Sakris have affiliations with the al-Rabaya'a tribe.
The main factions in the town are:
- Liwa al-Shaheed Emad Nasrallah, affiliated specifically with Jaysh Ahrar al-Asha'ir, which maintains particularly close relations with Jordan.
- Liwa A'isha Umm al-Mu'mineen, which declared in July 2017 that it joined Jaysh al-Islam's southern sector.
- First Regiment- Artillery, affiliated with the coalition of the Southern Front.
There is also a more minor presence for the faction Jund al-Malahem.
Friday, May 04, 2018
Prime Minister and al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri on Friday visited Dar al-Fatwa, the seat of Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim religious authority, as he toured several Beirut neighborhoods two days ahead of the May 6 parliamentary elections.
Hariri was received at Dar al-Fatwa by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, who was meeting with a group of scholars and clerics.
Daryan welcomed Hariri and said: "By coming here today, you reminded me of the great martyr of Lebanon, PM Rafik Hariri, who used to come to Dar al-Fatwa in the essential periods of the history of Lebanon.”
“The good relationship between Dar al-Fatwa and the Premiership must remain strong and solid, because in the end the Mufti of the Republic and the Prime Minister protect the sect and the nation,” the Mufti added.
Taimur Jumblat, the son and heir apparent of Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat, announced Friday that the Chouf-Aley 'Reconciliation List' will work on “building the state of law and institutions.”
“We stand before the teacher Kamal Jumblat who founded our path and we salute all the martyrs who offered their blood to protect this path,” Jumblat said at an electoral rally in Baakline on the eve of the electoral silence period.
Lebanon is set to hold its first parliamentary vote in nearly a decade on May 6, after a drawn-out political stalemate finally produced a new electoral law in 2017.
The new system maintains the sectarian seat allocation in the 128-member parliament, but swaps out the decades-old plurality system for a proportional list-based one.
Below are the most prominent elements of the law.
- Districts -
The new law reduces the number of voting districts from 26 to 15.
The smallest district in the south is represented by five parliament seats, and the largest, the hilly region of Chouf-Aley, has been allocated 13 seats.
In each district, the seats are distributed among the various religious sects present in that area.
For example, the seven seats allotted for the eastern district of Zahleh in the Bekaa valley include two seats for Catholics and one seat each for a Maronite Christian, Shiite Muslim, Sunni Muslim, Orthodox Christian, and Armenian Orthodox Christian.
- Lists -
All voters, regardless of sect, can vote for all seats in their district. In the past, they could individually choose which candidate they want to elect for each seat, mixing and matching from various parties as they wished.
Under the new law, they must choose from among wholesale lists presented on pre-printed ballots.
Arab countries discussing proposal to replace US soldiers in Syria with their own, says Egyptian foreign minister.
Syrian rebels on Friday were surrendering their heavy weapons after reaching a new deal with the government for a central swathe of territory, a war monitor said.
Opposition fighters agreed with regime forces and their allies to a ceasefire deal earlier this week for parts of Syria's central provinces of Hama and Homs, including the rebel towns of Talbisseh, Rastan, and Al-Houla.
"The fighters are handing over their heavy and intermediate weapons to Russian and regime forces for the second consecutive day," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
It included artillery and machine guns, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.
"Once the handovers are finished, the rebels who want to leave will be evacuated out with civilians," Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Rebels and civilians will be granted safe passage to the rebel-held town of Jarabulus, in Aleppo province, and the neighbouring province of Idlib which largely escapes government control, according to state news agency SANA.
Thursday, May 03, 2018
BEIRUT (Reuters) - An unlikely bunch of activists have joined forces for Lebanon’s general election in a rare challenge to the sectarian political dynasties and warlords they say left the country in ruins.
A pharmacist, a women’s rights advocate, and a TV celebrity are part of a loose alliance striving for a small but meaningful breakthrough in the vote this Sunday, the first in nine years.
Lebanese elections have never seen this many independent candidates, with dozens from outside the parties that dominate the country. They stand against a political elite which has barely changed since the 1975-90 civil war.
hey hope a new voting system will help them unseat at least some of the old guard, and want to tap into anger that fuelled a wave of anti-government protests in 2015.
“Their failure is our chance,” said Gilbert Doumit, who is running in Beirut against the incumbent Nadim Gemayel, the son of one of Lebanon’s most prominent war leaders. “We want to get our causes into the parliament.”
MOSCOW, May 3. /TASS/. A Sukhoi-30SM jet of Russia’s Aerospace Force has crashed in the Mediterranean killing both pilots, the Defense Ministry told the media on Thursday.