"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


Friday, December 30, 2022

Why Syria is vitally important to Israel's regional calculations - Middle East Eye

As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signal their intent to reconcile, Syria's regional comeback is almost complete. Its last regional enemy remains on its southern border: Israel

Many books have been written on the Syria-Israel relationship since 1948. But as the Abraham Accords face a stiff challenge as a far-right Israeli government comes to power, Tel Aviv's most urgent problem remains the resilience of the Syrian government, whose comeback has included a rapprochement with Hamas. 


Ten oil field workers killed in Syria attack - Naharnet

An attack in eastern Syria killed 10 oil field workers, state news agency SANA reported on Friday, a day after Syrian Kurdish-led forces announced an offensive against jihadists.

In addition to the nearly dozen dead, "two others have been wounded in a terrorist attack that targeted three buses transporting workers from al-Taim oil field in Deir Ezzor" province, SANA reported.

It did not provide any information on the nature of the attack in the Kurdish-held area or who may be behind it, but a British-based war monitor said "cells of the Islamic State group" carried out the assault near the oil field.

"The attack began with explosive devices that went off as the buses drove by, and then the group's militants shot at them," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.

On Thursday the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they had begun an offensive against Islamic State (IS) group fighters, following an earlier jihadist assault on a prison in Raqa, northwest of the attack on the bus.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the offensive, dubbed "Operation al-Jazeera Thunderbolt", aimed to "eliminate" IS fighters from areas that had been "the source of the recent terrorist attacks."

The SDF said it was carrying out the operation alongside the U.S.-backed coalition, although there was no immediate confirmation from the international force that they were taking part.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Turkish, Russian, Syrian defence ministers discuss Syria crisis in Moscow - TRT World

This is the first high-level contact between Türkiye and Syria since 2011.

Turkish, Russian, Syrian defence ministers and intelligence chiefs have met in Moscow to discuss the Syrian crisis.

According to a statement from the Turkish Defence Ministry on Wednesday, the country's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar along with the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan met Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Syrian regime's Defence Minister Mahmud Abbas and intelligence chiefs of the two countries.

During the meeting, the Syrian crisis, the refugee problem and joint efforts to combat terrorist organisations in Syrian territory were discussed.

The statement dubbed the meeting as constructive, saying it was agreed that such tripartite meetings and discussions would continue to ensure and maintain stability in Syria and the region.

"Ways of resolving the Syrian crisis and the problem of refugees as well as joint efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria have been discussed," the Russian Defence Ministry said in a separate statement.

The meeting came after Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that leaders of Türkiye, Russia and Syria could meet for talks after a meeting of intelligence, defence and foreign officials.


Türkiye-Rusya-Suriye görüşmesi: Şam ile 11 yıl sonra ilk resmi temas - Sputnik Türkçe

Milli Savunma Bakanı Akar ve MİT Başkanı Fidan, Rusya Savunma Bakanı Şoygu, Suriye Savunma Bakanı Abbas ve iki ülkenin istihbarat başkanlarıyla Moskova'da bir araya geldi.

Milli Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar beraberinde MİT Başkanı Hakan Fidan ile Moskova’ya gitti.

Bakan Akar beraberindeki Fidan ile sabah saatlerinde Esenboğa Havalimanı’ndan Rusya’ya hareket etti.

Akar ve beraberindeki Fidan’ın başkent Moskova’daki temaslarının sürdüğü belirtildi.

Bakan Akar ve MİT Başkanı Fidan, 11 yıl sonra Moskova'da Suriye ile ilk resmi teması gerçekleştirdi. Akar, Fidan, Rusya Savunma Bakanı Sergey Şoygu ve Suriye Savunma Bakanı Ali Mahmud Abbas ile iki ülkenin istihbarat başkanlarıyla Moskova'da bir araya geldi.
Milli Savunma Bakanlığı’ndan görüşmeye ilişkin yapılan açıklamada şu ifadelere yer verildi:
Milli Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar ve MİT Başkanı Hakan Fidan; Rusya Federasyonu Savunma Bakanı Sergey Şoygu ve Suriye Savunma Bakanı Ali Mahmud Abbas ile Rusya Federasyonu ve Suriye istihbarat başkanlarıyla Moskova’da bir araya gelmiştir.
Toplantıda Suriye krizi, mülteci sorunu ve Suriye topraklarında bulunan tüm terör örgütleri ile ortak mücadele çabaları ele alınmıştır.
Yapıcı havada geçen toplantının sonucunda Suriye’de ve bir bütün olarak bölgede, istikrarın temin edilmesi ve sürdürülmesi için üçlü formattaki toplantıların devamı konusunda mutabık kalınmıştır.


Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Aphrem II meets with US Ambassador to Lebanon, highlights effects of economic sanctions on Syrian people - Syriac Press

ATCHANÉ, Lebanon — In a meeting with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II addressed his concerns about the negative consequences of Western and US sanctions on the lives of ordinary people in Syria. In a post on the Patriarch’s official Facebook page, he stated that he discussed with Ambassador Shea, “the effects of the sanctions on the people as well as the humanitarian challenges that are affecting them and the role of the church in supporting the needy and offering help to them.”

Patriarch Aphrem II, who resides in Daramsuq (Damascus), met the US Ambassador at his residence in Atchané.

The Patriarch has previously spoken in favor of lifting Western sanctions against Syria. According to the Patriarch, the unjust and crippling economic measures imposed by the West lead to much suffering among the people of Syria and prevent the country’s reconstruction. Patriarch Aphrem II has previously stated that: “It is now undisputed that the imposition of these crippling economic sanctions has worsened the humanitarian crisis in Syria. They severely limit access to food, medical equipment and life-saving medicines.”

He is not the only patriarch to speak out. Throughout the decade-long civil war, several patriarchs have called for the lifting of sanctions. In 2021, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Mor Yawsef III Younan reiterated his call for international sanctions against Syria’s suffering population to be lifted. He called on, “international decision-makers and all those of good will to make efforts to lift the unjust sanctions imposed on the Syrian people, whose suffering is intensifying day by day. It is neither fair nor logical to condition the lifting of sanctions on a so-called political solution while ordinary people are impoverished and suffering from hunger, disease, and humiliation.”

Patriarchs living in Syria and neighboring Lebanon, where the Syrian intelligence services are still actively involved, are often cautious with public statements about governments and government officials since their Churches and believers exist in precarious conditions.


Defense Ministers of Syria, Russia and Turkey discuss efforts of combating terrorism and issue of refugees - SANA

Moscow, SANA- A tripartite session of talks was held in Moscow  Tuesday among defense Ministers of Syria, Russia and Turkey.

The talks dealt with efforts of fighting terrorism, the situation in Syria and the issue of refugees, SANA correspondent in Moscow said.

The correspondent added that the three Ministers affirmed the need for the continuation of joint dialogue to realize stability in Syria and the region.

“On December 28th, A tripartite session of talks was held in Moscow  Tuesday among defense Ministers of Syria, Russia and Turkey and the talks dealt with efforts of fighting terrorism, the situation in Syria and the issue of refugees,” the correspondent quoted a statement by Russian Defense Ministry as saying.

“Following the meeting, the Ministers referred to the constructive nature of the dialogue, stressing the importance of continuing it in order to increase stable situation in Syria and the region,” according to the statement.


Turkey, Syria Defense Ministers Meet in Moscow - The Wall Street Journal

Talks between senior officials of the two Middle East neighbors were the first in more than a decade.

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s defense minister and intelligence chief held talks with their Syrian counterparts in Moscow on Wednesday, the first formal, high-level meeting between the two Middle East governments since the eruption of a civil war in Syria in 2011.

The meeting, attended by senior Russian officials, came as Ankara is beginning to open a dialogue with Damascus after more than a decade of hostility. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the chief foreign supporter of an armed rebellion that sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid the uprisings of the Arab Spring.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said the officials discussed “the Syrian crisis, refugee issue and efforts for a joint struggle against all terrorist organizations on Syrian soil,” during the meeting in Moscow.  

The officials agreed on “the need for the continuation of joint dialogue” to achieve stability in Syria, according to Syria’s state-run news agency SANA.

Mr. Erdogan’s opening to the Syrian regime represents the reversal of one of the defining foreign-policy choices of his nearly 20 years in power. Under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey accepted millions of Syrian refugees and offered support to rebel groups whose leaders have for years moved freely between Turkey and areas of northern Syria under their control. The decision embroiled Turkey in years of war, bringing it to the brink of direct conflict with Russia after Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter in 2015.

The Turkish government has gradually shifted its policy on Syria in recent years after Mr. Assad gained the upper hand over the rebels due in part to military intervention by Russia, which launched a bombing campaign against the rebels in 2015. 

The meeting also comes as Mr. Erdogan deepens his relationship with Moscow, seeking to straddle the divide between Russia and the West during the war in Ukraine. Under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has expanded trade and energy ties with Russia while also selling weapons to Ukraine and facilitating negotiations on a range of issues between the two countries.

Mr. Erdogan has sought to use international influence gained from his role in the Ukraine crisis to advance Turkey’s interests. He is seeking Russian approval for a new Turkish military incursion against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria. Turkey has fought a slow-burning war with Kurdish separatists for decades.

The Turkish president has been calling for such an attack for months, with his demands gathering urgency following a deadly bombing in Istanbul in November that the Turkish government blamed on Kurdish militants. The Kurdish groups denied any role in the attack.

The other major foreign powers in Syria’s ongoing war—including Russia, the U.S., and Iran—have expressed disapproval for a new Turkish ground invasion that could further destabilize the region. Turkey launched a campaign of airstrikes in November that briefly led to a halt of joint operations between the U.S. military and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which are part of a coalition fighting Islamic State extremists in Syria.



Geagea slams 'attempt to impose' president, urges 'real' head of state - Naharnet

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has slammed what he described as an “attempt to impose a president” by the Hezbollah-led camp, as he stressed that the country needs a “real” head of state.

“What is happening today is not due to the might of the Axis of Defiance, but rather due to the weakness of those who should have shouldered their responsibilities and are still refusing to do so,” Geagea said at an LF dinner.

“The Axis of Defiance has not been able to secure the election of the candidate it wants, and accordingly it is blocking the election. This honestly is not a democratic nor a political, honorable or a patriotic act. It is rather an extremely despicable act that undermines democracy, patriotism and Lebanon,” the LF leader added.

“They are saying that they want a president who protect the back of the resistance, but do we need a president who would protect Hezbollah’s back or do we need him to protect the back of the Lebanese?” Geagea wondered.


Syrian defence Ministry: A meeting held among Syrian defence Minister, Director of General Intelligence with their Turkish counterpart with Russian participation - SANA

 Damascus, SANA- Syrian defence Minister, Director of Syrian General Intelligence discussed with their Turkish counterpart in Moscow today a number of files with Russian participation.

“A meeting was held among Syrian defence Minister, Director of Syrian General Intelligence Adminstration with their counterparts, the Turkish defense Minister and Turkish Head of Intelligence Apparatus in the Russian capital of Moscow with the participation of The Russian side. They discussed a number of issues,” The Syrian defense Ministry said in a statement.

The statement described The meeting as positive.


Monday, December 26, 2022

Bassil has reportedly met with Franjieh and Mikati -Naharnet

Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil has recently met with Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh and caretaker PM Najib Mikati despite the political campaigns he has waged against them in recent weeks, a media report said on Monday.

“Bassil did not hesitate to fulfill the request of a common friend by meeting his invitation to have lunch with Mikati at his banquet and later to meet with Franjieh,” Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted a political source as saying.

The source identified the common friend as a businessman who had previously sponsored similar meetings.

“Bassil met with Mikati on December 15, on the eve of the consultative ministerial meeting that he (the caretaker PM) hosted the next day at the Grand Serail,” the source said.

If confirmed, the meeting between Franjieh and Bassil would be the first between them since the iftar banquet that they attended in Ramadan at an invitation from Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, prior to the May 15 parliamentary elections.


Lebanon detains Hezbollah supporter in probe of Irish U.N. peacekeeper's killing - Reuters

 BEIRUT, Dec 26 (Reuters) - The Lebanese army detained over the weekend a main suspect in the recent killing of an Irish U.N. peacekeeper in a move coordinated with powerful armed group Hezbollah, two security sources and a Hezbollah spokesperson said.


Saturday, December 24, 2022

Rahi: All Political Indications Confirm The Presence of a Plot Against Lebanon Involving Presidential and Constitutional Vacuum - Kataeb.org

Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi said in Christmas message from Bkerke this morning that all political indications confirmed the presence of a plot against Lebanon involving presidential and constitutional vacuum.

"The Maronite Patriarchate is determined to continue its struggle and endeavors in Lebanon and among the Arab and international communities in order to accelerate the presidential entitlement," Patriarch Rahi added, pointing out that the regional conflict hinders these efforts because there are those who want a president for themselves, not for Lebanon, and they want a president for their project, not for the historical Lebanese project.

Rahi considered that so far no Lebanese party has proposed a national or civilized idea better than the Lebanese idea, and that his call for a conference sponsored by the United Nations and friendly countries on Lebanon is to distance Lebanon from any military clash and for the situation to remain fine in this unknown regional stage.

"Our call to this conference comes because we have surrendered to Lebanese politicians," he concluded.


Rai: Everything indicates 'a plan' against Lebanon - L'Orient Today

The Maronite patriarch again called for an international conference "to ensure that Lebanon is neutral in any military conflict" in the region.

Maronite patriarch Bechara al-Rai, said Saturday that "all political information indicates that a plan is in place against Lebanon," as the country continues to struggle with an unprecedented economic crisis and political deadlock. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Could Lebanon's presidency be within reach for army commander Joseph Aoun? - The National News

Lebanon has been without a president since the end of October, when Michel Aoun’s term ended. Since then, the political forces in the country have failed to reach a consensus on a successor. This is necessary, since parliament elects presidents in Lebanon, and what emerged from the elections in May is effectively a hung parliament.

Broadly speaking, there are two major parliamentary alignments. One is led by Hezbollah, and includes the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), led by Gebran Bassil, Mr Aoun’s son-in-law, and speaker of parliament Nabih Berri’s bloc. The other alignment, which tends to oppose Hezbollah, despite notable exceptions, that includes the mainly Christian Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb Party, the bloc led by Druze leader Walid Joumblatt, and a number of Sunni parliamentarians close to former prime minister Saad Hariri. A much more amorphous bloc of independents fluctuates between the two.

Parliament has held almost a dozen electoral sessions since October, to no avail, as the search for a successor to Mr Aoun seems frozen. Yet that assessment may not be so accurate. Behind the scenes a search is going on for a new president, one who would benefit from a consensus inside Lebanon, but who would also build trust regionally and internationally.


Syria’s Assad Issues Conditional Amnesty for Draft Dodgers - Asharq Al-Aswat

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty on Wednesday that pardons draft dodgers and helps them avoid prison if they report to duty within three to four months.

Syrians who escaped the mandatory military service and are inside the country will have three months to turn themselves in, while those abroad will get four months.

The decree applies to crimes committed before Dec. 21, the presidency said.

Aid agencies have said that the fear of conscription is a major reason for refugees not wanting to return to the country, which is in the throes of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

The lack of opportunity in the country also often limits the benefits of such amnesties. The government had previously issued similar amnesties during the Syrian war.


Cracks appear in the Hezbollah-FPM alliance - Now Lebanon

As Parliament continues to fail at electing a new president, the alliance between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement appears to be on shaky grounds amid a growing number of public disagreements. However, analysts say that the alliance will likely hold, with Hezbollah as the leader this time.

When the Shiite Hezbollah and the Maronite Christian Free Patriotic Movement signed the Mar Mikhael Agreement in 2006, it created waves in Lebanese politics that are felt over a decade later.

While much of Lebanon was piling into the March 14 camp that saw Syrian control over Lebanon come to an end in 2005, Hezbollah and the pro-Syria bloc were becoming increasingly isolated.

However, that changed when Michel Aoun, the founder and leader of the FPM, sat down with Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, to officialize their alliance.

The mutually beneficial relationship came to an all-time high in 2016, when Aoun was propelled into the presidency thanks to Hezbollah’s support. In doing so, Hezbollah ensured that they had an ally in Lebanon’s highest office that also served to provide them with a Christian cover, practically making Hezbollah the most dominant force in the country.

In the years since Aoun became president, though, this relationship has increasingly soured.

The cracks in the alliance first started to show in December 2021 when, in a televised speech, Aoun brought up the possibility of re-discussing the national defense strategy.

Then, at the start of January 2022, Aoun’s son-in-law and current leader of the FPM, Gebran Bassil, said that he “wants to develop” the agreement between the two parties.

Now, as Lebanon prepares to enter 2023 without a president, the distance between Hezbollah and its Christian ally appears to have widened, publically attacking each other in the media amid disagreements on who should be the next president and whether or not the government should be able to meet while there is no president.

“I am not saying that the Mar Mikhael Understanding failed,” Bassil told the Lebanese broadcaster LBCI. “Rather it is at stake.”


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Bukhari meets al-Rahi, urges new president and cooperative govt. - Naharnet

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari on Tuesday held talks in Bkirki with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, the state-run National News Agency said.

“Bukhari stressed the need to hold the presidential election as soon as possible and to form a government that would be in harmony with the president in order to revive the country,” Bkirki sources told LBCI television.

“The kingdom will not hesitate to carry out any effort that might be requested to help in the issue of the election,” the sources quoted Bukhari as telling al-Rahi.


Monday, December 19, 2022

Former Syrian Ambassador to Turkey Clarifies Damascus’ Position on Erdogan’s Latest Initiative - The Syrian Observer

Nidal Kabalan said there were no permanent enmity or permanent friendship, according to Athr Press.

In political circles, a surprise occurred in the form of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement yesterday regarding his proposal — made to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin — to establish a trilateral initiative with Syria intended to accelerate the diplomatic track between Ankara and Damascus. The surprise came due to the lack of any actual subsequent developments since talking about the Turkish-Syrian rapprochement file.

According to Reuters, the Turkish president set out his vision for this track, starting with a meeting of the countries’ intelligence services, then defence ministers, and then foreign ministers. Ultimately, the track would culminate in a meeting of the presidents of the two countries.

Russia met the Turkish offer receptively, as the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed optimism and welcomed Erdogan’s proposal.

On the Syrian position on the recent Turkish offer, Nidal Kabalan, the former Syrian ambassador to Turkey, said in an interview with the Al-Sharq TV channel: “The future between the two countries must be viewed from the standpoint of political foundations. This is because there is no permanent enmity or permanent friendship; instead, there is an intertwining of interests. Turkey paid the price, as did Syria, in this war. It is in everyone’s interest to turn over a new page in history. But it must happen on firm and solid foundations through trust, sincerity of intentions and dealing with difficult issues with determination.”

“Damascus does not judge words, but rather waits for actions by the Turkish president, including the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syrian territory, the cessation of support for terrorist groups, and the return of the Syrian state’s control over Idlib,” Kabalan explained.

On how Damascus and Ankara deal with the Kurdish file, Kabalan said: “The issue of the Kurds is the only point on which Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran agree to prevent the establishment of separatist entities along ethnic lines. Therefore it is the focus of consensus amongst these four countries.”

“Turkey should not limit its focus on terrorism to the Kurdish issue. There are dozens of terrorist organizations, whose militants hail from more than 84 countries, and they are still fighting on Syrian territory with the support of Turkey and other countries. In these circumstances, how can they be described as the Syrian opposition?”


Şam’da petrol krizi - Hürriyet

Önemli petrol sahaları rejim kontrolü dışında kalan Suriye’de ağır enerji krizi yaşanıyor. Başkent Şam’da evler ısıtılamazken, sokaklarda araç sayısı giderek azalıyor. Karaborsada bir depo benzin, iki aylık memur maaşına eşdeğerde.

Savaşın on yıldır sürdüğü Suriye’de enerji krizi yaşanıyor. Petrol ve benzeri ürünlerin karneyle satıldığı ülkede resmi akaryakıt fiyatı sadece bu yıl 4 kez arttırıldı. İş çıkış saatlerinde artık Şam sokaklarında Trafik sıkışıklığı yaşanmıyor. Birçok sürücü acil durumlar dışında araçlarını evde bırakıyor. Üniversiteler, akaryakıt krizi yüzünden haftada sadece üç gün ders yapıyor.


Eskiden haftada bir ucuz yakıt alma hakkı tanınan taksilere artık sadece ayda bir uygun fiyatlı yakıt veriliyor. Bu, taksi ücretlerinin artmasına yol açtı. Haber ajansı AFP’ye konuşan 39 yaşındaki taksici Bassam Zahrawi, artık Şam sokaklarında dolaşmadığını, ancak bir müşteri ararsa aracını çalıştırdığını, bu sayede yakıt tasarrufu yapmaya çalıştığını söyledi. Zahrawi, ayda bir verilen ucuz yakıtın sadece 2 gün yettiğinden şikâyet etti.


Karaborsada litresi 1 Dolar olan yakıtın fiyatı bu kışla birlikte ikiye katlandı. Ülkede ortalama memur maaşı aylık 21 dolar. Yani bir depo benzin, iki aylık maaşa eşdeğerde. Suriyeliler yakıt kıtlığından ötürü Batı yaptırımlarını suçluyor. Ülkedeki önemli Petrol sahaları rejimin değil, YPG/PKK’nın kontrolündeki alanlarda bulunuyor. Öte yandan ABD yaptırımları, Suriye’ye petrol ihracatını önemli ölçüde kısıtlıyor.


Sunday, December 18, 2022

Syria's blessing required for Lebanon to uncover its gas riches - Middle East Eye

Exploration in Lebanon's Block 9 to start soon; other energy reserves remain inaccessible without settling maritime borders with Syria 

Before Lebanon can reap any major benefits from its supposedly lucrative offshore gas and oil reserves, the energy-starved country will have to resolve its maritime border dispute with Syria.

The two countries' maritime zones overlap by about 750 sq km, including a region where Syria has awarded contracts to two Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the territory Lebanon also claims.

Lebanon in October resolved its maritime dispute with Israel under a US-brokered deal, which paved the way for French oil giant TotalEnergies and Italy's ENI to begin natural gas exploration in the Qana field in the country's southern waters.

However, until Lebanon's maritime borders with Cyprus and Syria are clearly demarcated, companies will remain reluctant to invest in gas and oil exploration in the rest of Lebanon's maritime zone, leaving the majority of the country's potential reserves still inaccessible. 


Al-Rahi lashes out at Hezbollah over UNIFIL, Rmeish - Naharnet

 Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday hit out at Hezbollah without naming it over two recent issues.

Voicing deep grief over “the assassination of the Irish soldier three days ago,” al-Rahi said that this UNIFIL peacekeeper “who came to Lebanon to protect the peace of the South has been martyred by a hatred bullet that assassinated him.”

“It’s about time, and it has long been overdue, that the state put its hand on every unruly and illegitimate weapon,” al-Rahi added, in his Sunday Mass sermon.

The Lebanese state “should implement Resolution 1701 in text and spirit, because so far its implementation has been selective, arbitrary and confined to the decision of the de facto forces,” al-Rahi went on to say, in an apparent swipe at Hezbollah and its arsenal of weapons.

Also criticizing Hezbollah without naming it, the patriarch said the residents of the southern border town of Rmeish have been decrying “violations against their land and bulldozing and construction activities by influential parties in the area.”


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Turkey seeks a trilateral mechanism with Russia, Syria -Erdogan - The Jerusalem Post

 Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Thursday as saying he proposed to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin forming a trilateral mechanism with Russia and Syria to accelerate diplomacy between Ankara and Damascus.

Broadcaster Haberturk cited Erdogan as telling reporters after a trip to Turkmenistan that he offered to Putin initiating a series of meetings between Turkey, Russia and Syria to revisit long-strained relations with Damascus.

"First our intelligence agencies, then defence ministers, and then foreign ministers (of the three countries) could meet. After their meetings we as the leaders may come together. I offered it to Mr Putin and he has a positive view on it," Erdogan was cited as saying.


Hezbollah officials, Maronite League head urge end to presidential void - Naharnet

Hezbollah’s “Christian relations” official Mohammed Saeed al-Khansa and Hezbollah official Abdullah Zaiour met Thursday with Maronite League chief Khalil Karam at the League’s headquarters.

Congratulating Karam over his election as the new head of the League and offering Christmas and New Year greetings, the two Hezbollah officials held a lengthy discussion with Karam over the situation in Lebanon.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Jumblat says dialogue welcome across continents but not in Lebanon - Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat said Wednesday that "we accept transcontinental dialogue but we reject it at home."

In a statement on social media, Jumblat said that we accept dialogue across continents and through football, but not in Lebanon.

"We may reach China if America agrees, France gives its blessing, and Saudi Arabia approves," Jumblat went on to say. "But we reject it in Lebanon," he added.

Berri had announced last week that he would turn Thursday’s presidential election session into a dialogue if the blocs agree to such a move. But later this week, dialogue was cancelled, after the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement refused to participate in the dialogue.


Monday, December 12, 2022

Protests Return to Suweida; Demonstrators Call for General Strike in Syria - The Syrian Observer

Dozens of protesters gathered in al-Sir Square in the center of the city of Suweida on Sunday, according to Syria TV.

The protests returned to the governorate of Suweida, on Sunday, after a week of similar popular protests, in which hundreds of people demonstrated in protest against the poor living conditions. Demonstrators stormed buildings of the governorate and raised political slogans demanding the fall of the Syrian regime.

The “Suwayda 24” page published a video showing the gathering of dozens of protesters in al-Sir Square in the center of the city of Suweida on Sunday. They are demonstrating to denounce the deterioration of living conditions and the failure of the regime government to provide services.

The demonstrators called on the people in the Syrian governorates to a general strike and civil disobedience, including all government and private sectors and the sit-in until the rights of the people are met, chanting phrases such as: “One, one, one, Syrian people are one.”


Four Reasons Behind the Accelerated Collapse of the Pound - The Syrian Observer

On Sunday, the exchange rate of the Syrian pound collapsed to the level of 6,050 against the dollar, according to Orient Net.

The Syrian pound has recently witnessed a continuous decline at a steady pace, exceeding 6,000 pounds per U.S. dollar for the first time in its history. This comes in conjunction with the exacerbation of economic crises plaguing the areas controlled by the Assad regime, especially the fuel crisis, which caused paralysis of vital sectors amid the regime’s inability to find any solutions.

On Sunday, the exchange rate of the Syrian pound collapsed to the level of 6,050 against the dollar, according to the site Lira Today specialized in monitoring the prices of the Syrian currency. It has lost a fifth of its value before foreign currencies during the past two months.

With the Syrian pound continuing to bleed at an almost regular pace over the past three weeks, expectations suggest it could fall to unprecedented lows.

Regarding the reasons for the recent decline in the value of the Syrian pound, economic analyst Dr. Yahya Al-Sayed Omar told Orient Net that this is due to a number of internal and external reasons.

Internal causes

Mr. Omar stated that the internal reasons are related to the increase in demand for the dollar and the increase in the supply of the pound in the Syrian market. He explained that the increase in demand for the dollar is due to the need to import additional quantities of fuel from the international market as a result of the almost complete lack of electricity, which led to an increase in dependence on fuel as a main carrier of energy. The import of fuel leads to a sharp increase in demand for the dollar.

He pointed out that the increase in the supply of the pound is due to several factors, including the exaggeration of relying on deficit financing through the continued printing of the Syrian pound without a parallel production balance. The Syrian banking system has completely lost its effectiveness, as the majority of the Syrian currency is outside banks. Companies and individuals do not deposit in banks unless they are obligated to do so.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Al-Rahi renews call for 'internationalizing Lebanese cause' - Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday reiterated his call for “heading to the U.N. and world powers to rescue Lebanon before it’s too late.”

“The internationalization of the Lebanese cause is inevitable after the failure of all domestic solutions,” al-Rahi said in his Sunday Mass sermon.

“It is notable that those who are foiling the domestic solutions are the same ones who are rejecting internationalization. When the Lebanese solution is being blocked and internationalization is being rejected, this means that these parties do not want any solution for the Lebanese situation,” the patriarch lamented.

“They want Lebanon to be as they want or not be, but everyone must know that Lebanon will be like all its loyal sons want it to be,” al-Rahi went on to say.


Saturday, December 10, 2022

After deadly unrest in Sweida, Syria asks: Is there more to come? - Middle East Eye

The southern province of Sweida has proven itself an exception in Syria over the past decade. Largely spared fighting, its Druze-majority residents have even occasionally staged furious protests against authorities in Damascus without severe reprisals.

Yet as flames licked up the walls of the governorate building on al-Mashnaqa (Gallows) Square on Sunday, and news broke of a protester and a policeman killed, Syrians of Sweida sensed that these latest demonstrations over the rapidly deteriorating economic situation were "unprecedented".

Sweida enjoys semi-autonomous rule where Druze militiamen known as Rijal al-Karameh (Men of Dignity) are largely responsible for its security. 


Army commander begins visit to Qatar - Naharnet

 Army Commander General Joseph Aoun on Saturday traveled to Qatar at an invitation from its deputy PM and foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the army said.

The army chief “will discuss means to support the army during this period,” the army added in a statement.

Recent media reports had said that Qatar had “strongly” waded into the Lebanese presidential file in terms of negotiating with Iran.


Friday, December 09, 2022

Türkiye-Suriye yakınlaşması henüz çok uzak - Şarkul Avsat

Medyada Suriye-Türkiye yakınlaşması ile ilgili pek çok tahmin öne sürüldü. Geçtiğimiz Cuma günü, aralarında Kremlin Sözcüsü ve Rusya'nın Suriye Özel Temsilcisi’nin de olduğu Rus yetkililer, Moskova'nın Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan ile Esed arasında bir görüşme ayarlamaya çalıştığını belirtti. Ancak ben yakın zamanda Moskova'da ‘gülümseyen’ bir Esed ile bir araya gelip el sıkışan ‘somurtkan’ bir Erdoğan fotoğrafı görmeyi beklemiyorum.

Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ve Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşşar Esed, tek bir konuda hemfikir o da Suriye'deki Kürt bölgelerinde gerçek bir özerklik kurulmasını reddetmek. Geçtiğimiz Kasım ayında Kazakistan'ın başkenti Astana'da Suriye konusunda yapılan bir toplantıda Türkler, Esed'in müttefikleriyle -İranlılar ve Ruslar- ‘Suriye'nin toprak bütünlüğünü bozmayı ve komşu ülkelerin ulusal güvenliğini tehdit etmeyi amaçlayan daha fazla ayrılıkçı plana’ karşı koyma konusunda bir kez daha anlaştılar.

Söz konusu mesaj öncelikle, PYD’yi ve ardından PKK ve ABD askeri koruması altındaki Kuzey ve Doğu Suriye Özerk Yönetimi ile bağlantısı olan PYD'ye bağlı Halk  Koruma Birlikleri (YPG)’yi hedef alıyor.

PYD ve milisleri gitmelerini istemedikçe ABD’lilerin kısa vadede yerlerinden kıpırdamayacaklarını düşünüyorum. PYD, büyük çaplı herhangi bir Türk askeri operasyonunu engellemek için Washington ile Şam ve Moskova arasında dengeyi sağlamayı başardı.