"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


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Russia Is Ready To Shoot Down Any US Plane Coordinating UAV Attacks On Hmeimim Air Base - Russian Top Official- South Front

Russia is prepared to shoot down any US plane coordinating UAV attacks on its Hmeimim Air Base near Latakia, Syria, according Vladimir Shamanov, head of the lower parliamentary house’s defense committee, former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops.

Threat of attack halts aid convoy to Syrian refugee camp, says Russia’s top brass- TASS

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. The delivery of a humanitarian convoy to the Rukban refugee camp was disrupted because of a threat that it could be attacked in the US-controlled area, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

The convoy, carrying more than 450 tonnes of food and medicines, was due to be sent on October 27. "However, the delivery of the convoy was again disrupted over the threat of an attack against it within the 55-km zone controlled by the Americans," Konashenkov said.

According to the spokesman, the dire humanitarian situation at the Rukban camp can be laid at the feet of Washington, who illegally occupied the vast Syrian region.

"The humanitarian crisis in Al-Tanf has been artificially cultivated by the US for several years with the goal of creating a permanent breeding ground of recruits from the refugees at the Rukban camp for the militant groups it controls in order to carry out recurrent acts of sabotage against the Syrian military and authorities in the adjacent areas," the general explained.

US transferring Daesh suspects from Syria to Iraq: HRW- Daily Star

BEIRUT: U.S. forces have been handing over suspected militants captured in Syria to the authorities in Iraq, where they face torture and botched trials, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
The New York-based watchdog said the United States had transferred suspected Daesh (ISIS) members for trials in Baghdad.
"The U.S. should not be transferring Islamic State suspects from Syria to Iraq or elsewhere if they will be at risk of torture or an unfair trial," HRW's Nadim Houry said.
The rights group said independent observers told them that several foreign defendants – including from France, Australia, and Lebanon – were tried in Baghdad recently and reported being captured in Syria.
In some cases, the defendants said they had never been to Iraq before.
"Faced with the refusal by many countries to take back their nationals, the U.S. seems to have taken the easy way out by transferring some to Iraq and be done with it," Houry said.

Foreign Ministry: Syria Supports Its Citizens in the Occupied Golan- Syrian Observer

Syrians living in the occupied Golan have rejected the local council elections that have been imposed on them by Israeli occupation forces writes SANA.

The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has stressed that the occupied Syrian Golan is an integral part of the Syrian territories, and it will work to restore the region sooner or later, while also expressing support for the Syrian civilians living in the occupied Golan and their resistance against the Israeli occupation and the illegitimate “local councils elections.”

In two identical letters sent to the UN Secretary General and UN Security Council President on the subject of the so-called “local council elections” the Israeli authorities want to hold in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the occupation authorities are determined to hold elections on Oct. 30, 2018, in the villages of Majdal Shams, Boqatha, Masa’ada, and Ain Qenia in the occupied Syria Golan, which contradicts UN resolutions and the Geneva agreements.

The Ministry said that the occupation authorities have been imposing these councils by force in recent years, contrary to the will and desire of the Syrians living in the occupied Syrian territories.

“Over the past few weeks, the Syrian citizens have organized protests in rejection of these elections. They burned the election cards and they condemned the attempts of the Israeli occupation to impose Israeli laws on them by force,” it added.

“As an example of the Israeli barbarism, the occupation authorities mobilized soldiers to suppress protest marches, and fired toxic gases in the town of Majdal Shams which caused children, the elderly, and women to suffocate during their confrontation with the Israeli occupation forces,” the Ministry continued to say.

Aoun rejects independent Sunni MPs' govt demands- Daily Star

BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Wednesday spoke out against a group of independent Sunni MPs who have insisted on being represented in the government, after their demand Tuesday caused a last-minute hurdle in the Cabinet formation process.
Speaking about the MPs, who are outside Premier-designate Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, Aoun implied that they did not have a right to representation.
“I won’t tell them the answer. They’re individuals; they’re not a bloc. They recently got together. [Asking] to be represented when each of them has a [different] political direction? What would come out of it?” Aoun said during a televised interview to mark the second anniversary since his election.
Aoun said that the government formation takes time to accomplish because of Lebanon’s diverse and democratic nature.
“We are a democratic country, more diverse than we should be. Some are trying to get more than their share – let’s say the truth as is. This is where the problem occurs,” he said, adding that the criteria for shares had been decided on previously but that some parties were trying to get a bigger share than they had been allotted.
“If everyone saw their share as enough, problems wouldn’t have arisen. We gave parties more than enough so they can enter government and be comfortable.”
“But Hariri, as premier[-designate], must remain strong.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

LF decision to participate in govt 'wise': Joumblatt- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt Tuesday welcomed the Lebanese Forces’ decision to participate in the forthcoming government, in a tweet from his official account.
Joumblatt wrote that the LF’s decision was a “right and wise decision that serves the public interest,” a day after LF leader Samir Geagea announced that the LF had accepted Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s offer to participate in the government.
The announcement came after the LF’s parliamentary Strong Republic bloc held an emergency meeting earlier Monday to take a final stance on the issue.
The offer would give the LF four posts: the deputy prime minister’s position and the Social Affairs, Culture and Labor ministries. However, the offer fell short of the LF’s persistent demand for the Justice Ministry or a sovereign portfolio.

Monday, October 29, 2018

With border open, Jordanians visit Syria for first time in years- Daily Star

DAMASCUS/JABER, Jordan: Jordanians are flocking to the Syrian capital Damascus for the first time in years for tourism and trade after the reopening of a border crossing that had been closed through years of war.
The border opened to people and goods on Oct. 15, restoring a route that had carried billions of dollars in trade for the region.
“The first day that Syria opened up, I came. This is my second time since then,” said Mahmoud Nassar, 62, a flight engineer from Jordan’s northern city of Ramtha.
“This is a visit of tourism and of yearning for [Damascus],” said Nassar, who drove in with his father and son. “The road is safe and there were no problems.”
Syrian government forces retook the border region with Jordan from rebels in July during a Russian-backed offensive.
The crossing had been closed since rebels captured it in 2015, though many are making the trip for the first time since 2011, when the Syrian conflict first erupted.
The Jordanian side of the frontier was jammed with vehicles waiting to cross Friday. “What we see is the situation is good, things are fine,” said Razzan al-Hattab, a Jordanian waiting to cross. “I love Sham [Damascus], so I wanted to be one of the first to try going in a tourist group.”
The closure of the border has hit both the Syrian and Jordanian economies. “Before the border closed, our work was great,” said Jawad al-Zoubi, waiting to cross. But for “the last seven years, we’ve not been able to pay school fees,” he said.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

New Government Expected Monday or Tuesday- Naharnet

The line-up of the new government is expected to be announced Monday or Tuesday, a media report published Sunday said.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who voiced optimistic remarks on Saturday, will return Sunday evening to Beirut from Jordan to “make the final steps regarding the cabinet line-up,” An Nahar newspaper reported.
“Hariri has asked all parties to provide him with the names of their ministers before Monday so that he allocates the portfolios and completes the cabinet line-up before his expected visit to the Baabda Palace in the beginning of the week,” the daily added.
President Michel Aoun is expected to accept the line-up, An Nahar said.
Political wrangling over portfolios, especially among Christian and Druze forces, has delayed the formation of the cabinet for several months now.
A new hurdle has also emerged in recent days regarding the representation of Sunni MPs opposed to Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement.

HTS Confirms Its Violations Of Demilitarized Zone Agreement, Vows To Continue Attacks- South Front

Military commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the southern Aleppo countryside, Zubair al-Turkmani, told the Ibaa news network on October 27 that HTS fighters had shelled a gathering of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops near the town of Khan Tuman, which is located northwest of the city of Aleppo.

“We also detected a sniper of the Nusayri army [Jihadi term for SAA] on the same front and targeted him with an SPG-9 shell killing him and injuring others,” al-Turkmani told HTS-linked Ibaa.

Al-Turkmani did officially acknowledge that HTS is violating the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement and vowed to retaliate against any “movement” of the SAA in the area.

Earlier this month, HTS released a vague statement regarding its stand on the deconfliction agreement. In the statement, the radical group vowed to continue its war on the SAA, but at the same time it thanked Turkey for its efforts to find a peaceful solution.

The recent HTS attacks and al-Turkmani’s statement indicate that HTS is now closer to rejecting the deconfliction agreement than before. Syrian opposition activists had previously warned that the “radical wing” within the group, which includes foreign Jihadists, is working to sabotage the agreement, likely to guarantee its survival.

Hariri Insists on Govt. within 48 Hours, Rejects Giving Up Sunni Seat- Naharnet

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is insisting that the new government should be formed “within 48 hours,” sources close to him said on Sunday.
“Hariri is awaiting the Lebanese Forces' response to a proposal giving it the labor portfolio instead of the justice portfolio in addition to other ministerial portfolio,” the sources told MTV.
As for Hariri's stance on the appointment of a Sunni minister from outside his al-Mustaqbal Movement, the sources quoted Hariri as saying: “If you want to appoint him from my share, then start searching for another premier, but if President Aoun wants to give them a ministerial seat from his share, then this would be up to him.”

Russia, Germany, Turkey, France committed to Syria’s territorial integrity - communique- TASS

The four leaders are "full of determination to resist separatist plans, aimed at undermining sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria"

BERLIN, October 27. /TASS/. The participants of the four-party summit in Istanbul - Russia, Turkey, Germany and France - are committed to the territorial integrity of Syria, according to a communique released by the German government on Saturday.

The leaders of the four nations "confirmed their commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic," the document reads.

They are "full of determination to resist separatist plans, aimed at undermining sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, as well as national security of neighboring states."

Besides, the participants of the Istanbul meeting said they were ready to work on creating conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. This will depend on providing them with "guarantees against armed conflicts, political persecution and unlawful detentions," as well as on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure to make sure that the population has access to water and electricity.
Russia, Germany, Turkey and France "expressed concern about risks and threats to the regional and global security, brought forth by the [Syrian] conflict." The participants of the meeting are "firmly convinced that this conflict cannot be solved by military means, that it should be settled through negotiations within the political framework and in line with [UN Security Council] Resolution 2254."

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Govt. Representation of Independent Sunni MPs Not Resolved- Naharnet

Inspite of the growing “optimism” heralding a near government lineup, “probably on Sunday,” no indicators have shown that a solution is reached for an“obstacle” linked to the representation of a group of independent Sunni MPs, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Quoting well-informed sources, the daily said: “Matters have not yet been resolved in this regard,” pointing out that “Prime Minister-designate (Saad Hariri) categorically rejects the allocation of a ministerial portfolio to any of the independent lawmakers at the expense of his al-Mustaqbal Movement.”

New formats of Syria talks help resolve conflict - Putin- TASS

ISTANBUL, October 27. /TASS/. New formats of talks on Syria are likely to help resolve the conflict in that country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday at a news conference after the four-party summit on Syria in Istanbul.

"I think that an increasing number of participants in the settlement process serves this well. In essence, it was initially a proposal by the French president to join efforts of the Small Group and Astana process. That was actively supported by the Turkish president who initiated today’s meeting. I think it has served well," Putin said.

Asked about chances for a second summit of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey on Syria, Putin answered that the sides "has not negotiated this yet, but everything is possible."

Merkel says must ultimately aim for elections in Syria- Reuters

ISTANBUL, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A solution to the Syria crisis cannot simply be military and must include a political process under the auspices of the United Nations that envisages free elections as a goal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday.

“At the end of this political process, there must be free elections to which all Syrians have access - including the diaspora,” Merkel told a news conference in Istanbul where she met the leaders of Turkey, Russia and France.

Russian, German, French, Turkish Leaders Meet In Istanbul To Discuss Syrian Conflict- South Front

The four-nation summit on Syria between Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France took place in the Turkish city of Istanbul on October 27.
Speaking at a joint news conference after the summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the event aimed at reaching a full cease-fire to halt hostilities in the war-torn country. He added that Astana peace talks format had set an example to the international community in efforts to solve the crisis, adding that Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France had “fruitful and sincere” consultations during the October 27 summit.
“We have agreed to boost the cooperation between our four countries and at the international level,” Erdogan added noting that Iran will be informed on the outcomes of the summit.
Nonetheless, the statements by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed that there are still contradictions within the attitudes of the sides on the conflicts. One of this issues is a possible military operation to put an end to the presence of the terrorist groups in northwestern Syria.
French President Macron stated that the military operation by the Syrian military in the militant-held province of Idlib is unacceptable. It’s interesting to note that President Erdogan stressed that Ankara would not allow terrorist presence in any region of Syria. However, the Turkish President most likely refered to Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria, not to the terrorists in Idlib.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Russia, Turkey, Germany and France have common goals in Syria.However, she did not reveal what kind of the goals these are.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Bukhari Urges Balanced Govt. as Saudi, UAE Envoys Tour Chouf- Naharnet

Saudi charge d'affaires in Lebanon Walid Bukhari and UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad al-Shamesi on Friday toured the Mount Lebanon region of Chouf where they inspected a number of institutions and met spiritual and political leaders.
The two envoys' tour included health and religious institutions and was concluded at the house of the head of al-Orfan Institution Sheikh Ali Zeineddine in a meeting attended by Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Naim Hassan and Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat.
“I want to emphasize on the historic relation that links the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Druze community in Mount Lebanon,” Bukhari said at the meeting.
“During this visit, we are expressing our love and KSA's support for Lebanon and all its sects and components, especially the dear Druze community which is a main guarantee for Lebanon's patriotism and Arab identity,” the envoy added.

STL Head of Defence Office Concludes Working Visit to Lebanon- Naharnet

The Head of Defence Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Dorothée Le Fraper du Hellen, has concluded her first official visit to Lebanon, a statement released by the STL Defence Office said on Friday.
She met with President of the Republic Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, and the Minister of Justice Salim Jreissati.
Le Fraper du Hellen also met with members of the diplomatic community in Beirut.
During this visit, she discussed with her interlocutors the role and the rights of the Defence before the Tribunal, notably during the trial in the Ayyash et al. case (STL 11-01), which has now reached the deliberation stage.

Fiercest fire yet near Syria buffer zone: activists- Daily Star

BEIRUT/MOSCOW: Rebels and militants traded fire with government forces in northern Syria overnight, their “fiercest” exchanges since a buffer zone deal was announced for the area last month, an activist group said Thursday.
A 15-20-kilometer-wide “demilitarized zone” was announced by rebel backer Turkey and Syrian ally Moscow on Sept. 17 to separate regime troops from rebel fighters in their last major bastion in Idlib province and adjacent areas.
Shelling has continued intermittently, however, and escalated dramatically late Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Rebel shelling from inside the zone killed three civilians in regime-held territory earlier this week.
Late Wednesday, rocket fire by both militants and Turkish-backed rebels hit second city Aleppo, wounding 10 people, said Rami Abdel-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based observatory.
The National Liberation Front, the Turkish-backed rebel alliance which is the main armed group in that area, said it was responding to regime violations of the truce deal with “light and medium weapons.”
Under the deal agreed by Russia and Turkey, the rebels were supposed to have removed all heavy weapons from the zone by Oct. 10.

Aoun offers condolences to Jordan's king after deadly floods- Daily Star

BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Friday offered his condolences to Jordanian King Abdullah II after flash floods near Jordan’s shore of the Dead Sea left dozens dead.
According to a statement from the presidency, Aoun said in a cable sent to King Abdullah that the Lebanese people shared Jordan’s pain. “We stand in solidarity with you during these difficult times,” Aoun said.
The death toll from the floods Friday reached 20, several schoolchildren, making it one of the deadliest incidents in the kingdom.
Heavy rains Thursday sent flash floods surging towards a group of 37 students, seven adult chaperones and other visitors while they were taking a break at the hot springs a few kilometers away from the Dead Sea.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Central Bank to Issue 50 Pound Coin- The Syrian Observer

The new coin will be issued by the end of 2018 and hopes to meet the needs of citizens writes SANA.

The Central Bank of Syria (CBS) plans to launch a 50 Syrian pound coin by the end of this year after the completion of the special measures in this regard.

In a statement, the CBS said that the launching of this coin emphasizes the need to provide cash categories for citizens, mainly the categories that enjoy high turnover in order to meet the needs of citizens.

IŞİD'in Süveyda kırsalında kaçırdığı Dürzilerden 10'u kurtarıldı- Sputnik News

IŞİD tarafından Suriye’nin Süveyda bölgesinde kaçırılan 33 Dürzi'den 10'nu Suriye ordusunun girişimiyle kurtarıldı. IŞİD'in elinde halen 17 Dürzi bulunuyor. Sputnik'e konuşan Şam Milletvekilli Omer Osi, Dürzilerin Suriye Ordusu tarafından IŞİD'in elinden kurtarıldığını belirterek, IŞİD'in elindeki diğer Dürzilerin de kurtarılacağını söyledi.

Suriye ordusu kaynaklarından edinilen bilgilere göre Suriye ordusu, IŞİD'in kaçırdığı Dürzileri kurtarıyor. 25 Temmuz'da Süveyda kırsalındaki Dürzilere saldırıp 250 kişiyi öldüren ve 35 kişiyi ise kaçıran IŞİD, kaçırdığı Dürzilerden bazılarını da öldürmüştü. 

Suriye ordusu kaçırılanların kurtarılması için geçen hafta yaptığı girişim sonucu 6 Dürziyi kurtarmıştı. Suriye ordusu dün de yaptığı girişim ile 10 Dürziyi daha kurtardı. IŞİD'in elinde halen 17 Dürzi tutulurken, Suriye ordusu onları kurtarmak için de çalışmalarını yürütüyor.

Lebanese to get free visa on arrival in Iraq- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Lebanese politicians Wednesday praised a decision to grant Lebanese passport holders visitor and tourist visas for free upon arrival in Iraq.
Lebanese passport holders will be granted a free multiple-entry visa for up to six months upon arrival, according to a decision signed Tuesday by Iraqi Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji. Lebanese previously had to apply for a visa beforehand at the Iraqi Embassy and pay a fee.
MP Yassine Jaber, who heads Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Committee, applauded the move Wednesday, saying the change bolstered Iraq as an important trade and economic partner.
Lebanon waived requirements for Iraqis to apply for visas ahead of time “six or seven years ago,” so “now there is equal treatment,” he said. Iraqis are eligible for free one-month visas, extendable to three months upon entering Lebanon.
“We’ve been working on it for a while now, and many [Lebanese] with business in Iraq assisted in the move,” he told The Daily Star.

Mieh Mieh refugee camp to become ‘weapon-free’- Daily Star

BEIRUT / SIDON, Lebanon: The Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon will soon become free of weapons, a security source told The Daily Star Wednesday, shortly after the Lebanese Army deployed in and around the camp.
“In the near future ... Mieh Mieh will be a Palestinian camp free of weapons, and the Lebanese Army will follow gradual and precautionary measures aimed at implementing this step and withdrawing all sources of tensions,” the source said.
Earlier in the day, the Army deployed at the entrances to the camp as well as at one specific position inside it after Palestinian groups agreed to evacuate from those areas.
The Army’s deployment, which was first attempted Tuesday morning, got held up when members of both the Fatah Movement and the Palestinian National Security Forces in Lebanon refused to evacuate the areas that were set to be taken over by the Army.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Normality returns for some in Damascus after fighting ends- Reuters

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Some people in the Syrian capital Damascus have been able to enjoy a semblance of normality since fighting in the area ended in May, but in the rubble of shattered, destitute towns nearby, life could not be more different.

Central Damascus was held by the government throughout the war and suffered much less damage than opposition-held areas - evidence of the huge gulf in fire power between the two sides.

Parts of the eastern Ghouta region just outside Damascus were all but flattened during a government offensive this spring to retake it from rebels.

When the area surrendered, tens of thousands of its people, both fighters and civilians, chose to leave eastern Ghouta under safe passage for opposition areas in northern Syria rather than come back under government rule. Others decided to stay.

The risk of being hit by bullets or shellfire near the capital has now ended, but conditions in central Damascus, with its relaxed nightlife and bustling business district, seem a world away from the hardship of eastern Ghouta.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Govt. Formation Negotiations Back to Square One- Naharnet

The strenuous government formation talks appear to have returned to square one following the reported progress of the past few days.
As the Lebanese Forces clings to the justice ministerial portfolio amid the rejection of the Free Patriotic Movement, which says it should be part of the President's share, the Progressive Socialist Party is insisting on keeping the education portfolio, rejecting that it be part of any bargaining.
The Marada Movement is meanwhile stressing that it should keep the public works portfolio.
“The FPM wants the justice portfolio, which further complicates the PM-designate's mission, seeing as there are six significant portfolios other than the sovereign portfolios, whereas seven parties are vying for them, which means that there is a need to deprive a certain party of one of them and compensate it with an important service-related portfolio such as social affairs,” Asharq al-Awsat quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Hariri-Geagea Meeting Fails to Resolve Justice Portfolio Hurdle- Naharnet

The meeting that was held Saturday between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea failed to achieve any breakthrough in the cabinet formation crisis, a media report published Sunday said.
“The two-hour meeting represented a key milestone on the course of direct consultation between Hariri and Geagea regarding the available alternatives that could resolve the obstacle of ensuring balanced representation for the LF,” An Nahar newspaper reported.
“The meeting did not yield anything to dispel the atmosphere of uncertainty that has engulfed the past hours as a result of the failure to allocate a significant portfolio to the LF, after the President openly told the PM-designate that he will not give up the justice portfolio which had been promised to Geagea by Hariri,” the daily added.
Moreover, An Nahar noted that the latest stances by Hizbullah and the Marada Movement indicate that a new obstacle regarding Sunni representation has arisen.
“The insistence on appointing a minister from March 8's Sunnis and the nomination of MP Faisal Karami for a ministerial portfolio that would be part of the President's share do not indicate that the obstacle is only about the LF but that there is an inclination to delay the formation of the government,” the newspaper added.

At Jordan Border, Damascus Seeks to Revive Regional Trade- Naharnet

By reopening a key land crossing with Jordan this month, the Syrian regime is inching towards a return to trade with the wider region as it looks to boost its war-ravaged economy.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad took back control of the Nassib border post in July from rebels as part of a military offensive that reclaimed swathes of the south of the country.
Syria's international trade has plummeted during the seven-year civil war, and its foreign reserves have been almost depleted.
The reopening of Nassib after a three-year hiatus, on October 15, is a political victory for the Damascus regime, said Sam Heller of the International Crisis Group.
It is "a step towards reintegrating with Syria's surroundings economically and recapturing the country's traditional role as a conduit for regional trade," he said.
The Nassib crossing reopens a direct land route between Syria and Jordan, but also a passage via its southern neighbor to Iraq to the east, and the Gulf to the south.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Acting Armenian premier talks bilateral relations with Lebanese leaders during visit- Daily Star

BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun called for the completion of agreements that have been prepared but not signed yet between Lebanon and Armenia, stressing their importance during his meeting Saturday with Armenia's acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Pashinyan and his accompanying delegation met with Aoun at the presidential palace, a statement from Aoun's media office said, hours after the Armenia delegation landed in Beirut for a two-day visit.
The acting Armenian premier expressed his country's support for Aoun's initiative to make Lebanon a permanent center for dialogue among all cultures and civilizations, a point which Aoun raised during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Pashinyan said this will "allow for more dialogue between civilizations, religions and cultures."
He added that Armenia will continue supporting UNIFIL to maintain stability and security in southern Lebanon, a promise that Aoun said he appreciated, according to the statement.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Druze Obstacle Likely ‘Eased’ Paving Way for Government Lineup- Naharnet

Efforts to lineup the government have not seized over the weekend, as meetings and contacts were intensified to ease the obstacles mainly the Druze and Christian representation.
The Druze “obstacle” has reportedly been “eased”, media reports said on Tuesday, and the Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat has reportedly agreed to allocate only two Druze ministerial seats instead of three.
Jumblat has "agreed" to leave naming the third minister to all concerned parties on condition that he garners consensus.
Reports said MP Talal Arslan has agreed to give up his demand for the third Druze seat.
Unnamed sources told al-Joumhouria daily that a meeting between PM-designate Saad Hariri and Arslan on Monday has paved way for easing the gridlock.

Clashes in Palestinian Refugee Camp Wound 6- Naharnet

Lebanese security officials say clashes between rival Palestinian factions in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon wounded at least six people.
The officials say the clashes broke out Monday between members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah and Jundallah, which is allied with Hizbullah.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said most of the six wounded are Fatah members.
Clashes are uncommon in the camp of Miyeh ou Miyeh, near the port city of Sidon.
Last year, the first official census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon revealed that they numbered 174,422, a figure almost two-thirds less than previously estimated. The refugees include those who fled or were driven out of what is now Israel during the 1948 war and their descendants.

Hariri says government is 'very close- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said Tuesday that the formation of a government was “very close.”
“I know that the formation of the government has taken too long, but we will be able to form it, God willing,” Hariri said during a speech at the Grand Serail. “We are very close to that.”
Hariri was tasked with forming a government on May 24 and he said at the time he wanted to form a “national entente government.”
At around 2:30 p.m., local media reported that Hariri met with caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, Speaker Nabih Berri's top political aide, to talk government formation.
Meanwhile, local media reported that Berri said "there is progress" in the formation process. Berri's comments came from Geneva, where he is participating in the 139th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly.
Two major obstacles blocking Hariri’s efforts to form a Cabinet have been that of Christian representation and Druze representation.
The Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement, the country’s two main Christian parties, have each put forward irreconcilable demands for ministerial representation of the Christian sect.

Damascus, Baghdad Say Albou Kamal Crossing to Be Opened Soon- Asharq Al-Awsat

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced Monday that the Albou Kamal border crossing will be opened soon.

The portal is known as the Qaim crossing on the Iraqi side of the border.

The announcement coincided with the opening of Quneitra crossing in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Nassib crossing with Jordan.

“We are now looking at the interest of the Syrian and Iraqi people in opening up the Albou Kamal crossing... as soon as possible," Muallem said in a joint press conference with Jaafari in Damascus.

Three crossings link the two neighbors. Albou Kamal is the only one currently controlled by regime forces from the Syrian side.


US Forces Reinvigorating Al-Tanf Base At Syria-Iraq Border- Muraselon

Washington has started recruiting more fighters to reinvigorate al-Tanf base in Southern Homs near the border with Iraq despite US army claims about its imminent pullout from the region, a Syrian paper reported on Tuesday.
The Arabic-language al-Watan, a state-run daily, quoted well-informed sources as reporting that the “US occupiers” in al-Tanf base at border with Iraq have started recruiting a large number of young men from al-Rukban refugee camp.
It went on to say that the US move is aimed at stretching a security belt around al-Tanf base and al-Rukban camp, adding that a sum of $600 monthly salary has been promised to the fresh forces.
The paper further said that the US forces will train the newly-recruited men who will later wear US military uniform.
The US had previously announced an agreement with Russia to leave al-Tanf soon, but later it halted the plan.

Jumblat Hands Aoun 'List' to Resolve Druze Minister Spat- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Tuesday said he handed President Michel Aoun a “list” of candidates in order to resolve the spat over the so-called third Druze minister in the new government.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Aoun in Baabda, Jumblat described the talks as “very positive.”
“The Druze obstacle does not exist, seeing as politics is the 'science of compromises,'” Jumblat added.
“We insist on getting the education ministerial portfolio and we don't want any ministry on which there are disputes,” the Druze leader went on to say.
Jumblat had been seeking to get all three Druze seats for his PSP amid insistence by Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan on being allocated one of the portfolios.
Media reports have said that the solution is based on the appointment of a so-called “consensus” Druze minister.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Deadline Passes for Syria's Idlib Buffer without Jihadists Leaving- Naharnet

A deadline for jihadists to leave a planned buffer zone around Syria's last major rebel bastion of Idlib passed Monday without any sign they had done so, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based war monitor said there had been no visible jihadist withdrawal from the buffer by midnight, as a rebel source confirmed the deadline had passed.
The withdrawal of all jihadists was the second and last condition for the implementation of a Russian-Turkish deal to stave off a regime assault on the northwestern province of Idlib.

Jordan Reopens Main Border Post with Syria after 3 Years- Naharnet

Jordan on Monday reopened its main border crossing with war-torn Syria, a key Middle East trade route, after a three year closure, AFP reporters said.
The black metal border gate was opened from the Jordanian side of the crossing at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) as more than a dozen police and customs officials stood nearby.
Cars bearing Jordanian license plates queued to enter Syria as travellers expressed their joy at being able to cross the border.
Syrian businessman Hisham Falyoun, who lives in Jordan with his wife and children, was the first person to cross the border in his black Mercedes jeep.
"I am extremely happy, I can't express my feelings. This crossing should have been reopened earlier as it is a very vital line for all Arab countries not only Jordan and Syria," he said.
"I wanted to be the first person to cross to show everyone that Syria is safe, Syria is back," said Falyoun, who was hoping to surprise his parents in Damascus.

Syria, Israel Reopen Quneitra Crossing In Golan Heights First Time In Four Years- South Front

On October 15, Syria and Israel reopened the Quneitra border crossing in the Golan Heights for the first time in four years. The Syrian flag was raised at the crossing, and as it reopened, the UN peacekeeping force UNDOF sent a number of white trucks from Syria to the Israeli-held area.
Maj. Nehemia Berkey, the Israeli liaison to UNDOF, told media that the reopening of the crossing “symbolizes the return of the enforcement of the 1974 disengagement agreement [between Israel and Syria]”.
On the same day,  a crossing between Syria and Jordan was opened for the first time in three years. The reopening of the crossing allows the sides to restore free movement of civilians and good between the sides.
The reopening of Naseeb is major financial relief to the Damascus government by restoring a much-needed gateway for Syrian exports to other Arab countries. The resumption of commercial trade is also a diplomatic victory for Syria and its allies.
Furthermore, the reopening of the aforementioned crossings shows the de-escalation of the situation in southern Syria in general, a move for a long time supported by the Russian side. It seems that despite all the speculations in the mainstream media, the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance has emplyoed a right appraoch and achieved an important victory in the area.

Nusra'nın açıklamasında 'silah bırakmama, cihada devam etme' resti- Sputnik News

Rusya ile Türkiye'nin İdlib'e ilişkin Soçi mutabakatı hakkında nihayet açıklama yapan Nusra, silah bırakmama ve Suriye hükümetine karşı cihadı devam ettirme resti çekti.

Türkiye ile Rusya'nın İdlib için vardığı Soçi mutabakatına ilişkin Kaide kolu Nusra'nın aldığı son şekil ve isim olan Heyet Tahrir el Şam'ın (HTŞ) açıklamasında bazı sert ifadeler dikkat çekti. HTŞ'nin açıklamasında, silahların kırmızı çizgileri olduğu ve Suriye devleti ile onları destekleyenlerle savaşı sürdürecekleri ifade edildi.
Nusra liderliğinde 8 cihatçı örgütün koalisyonu niteliğindeki HTŞ, Suriye'de işgal ettiği bölgeleri hiçbir şekilde Suriye hükümet güçlerine terk etmeyeceğini, silah bırakmadan sonuna kadar Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşar Esad'a bağlı güçlerle ve onları destekleyenlerle savaşacağını dile getirdi.

Syria says it's ready to fight for Idlib if jihadists reject deal- Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria’s foreign minister said on Monday that Syrian forces stand ready to fight jihadists around the northwestern region of Idlib if a Russian-Turkish deal is not implemented there the same day, in keeping with a critical deadline.

The deal for Idlib sets up a buffer zone running 15-20 km (9-13 miles) deep into rebel territory that must be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all jihadists by Monday.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said it was up to Russia now to judge whether the agreement, which staved off a government offensive on the last notable swathe of territory in insurgent hands after seven years of war, was being fulfilled.

“Our armed forces are ready around Idlib to eradicate terrorism if the Idlib agreement is not implemented,” al-Moualem said at a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Damascus.