Arab affairs

Editorial: The battle over Syria is decisive
The Syrian community is living in a state of turmoil due to the consecutive events, the concerns over which have been enhanced by the security situation that was shaken following a stage of stability which lasted throughout the past thirty years. In the meantime, threats of sectarian violence are lurking, and are being generated by the rhetoric of strife in a country characterized by a various religious and ethnic fabric and was considered - until yesterday - as being the only space in which the religious minorities could feel safe in the East, thanks to the secular and nationalistic political regime in place.
The determination to generate turmoil in Syria conveys a blunt foreign will to deplete this country which enjoys a key and decisive position in the conflict over the future of the region. This is pointed to by a series of signs witnessed at the level of the Syrian events:
 The nature of the political forces that are activating the protests, as well as their foreign ties. Indeed, there are three parties involved and they are: Abdul Halim Khaddam and his group, Ribal al-Assad, and the Muslim Brotherhood organization, its branches and allies such as the Tahrir Party that is operating from Lebanon. In the meantime, the events are revealing the strength enjoyed on the field by networks and groups evolving under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, its branches and alliances. And thanks to the American adoption of these forces and the support offered to them by Bandar Bin Sultan and Saad al-Hariri, it would be natural to place the action inside Syria in the context of the American-Israeli project to reshape the region and dismantle the resistance system.
 The introduction of weapons from Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq and the use of these weapons to clash with the security forces, lead to bloodshed and carry out ambushes and crimes targeting army officers and elements, as well as security forces. This situation points to the presence of terrorist groups that are exploiting the demonstrations and the popular gatherings, but also to the existence of a political plan aiming at creating a gap of blood and thick psychological barriers between the Syrian authorities and the people.
 The budgets ratified by Congress to fund television channels broadcasting from abroad, social networking websites and groups that were trained to use modern communication means, satellite channels, radio stations and Arab newspapers in the Gulf and Lebanon, as well as operations rooms scattered in European and Arab capitals. This reveals orders that were issued from Washington to exploit the suitable internal climate in order to turn the Syrian street against the regime, but also to exploit the Arab developments to transfer the infection on the eve of the set date for the beginning of the pullout from Iraq.
It is a new decisive battle over the future of the region. If President Bashar al-Assad wins through the comprehensive renewal of the institutions and the revival of the political and unionist frameworks in the country – while relying on free popular choice - this will enhance and the deepen the roots of the resistance and independence options consecrated by Assad, and based on which he earned the support of the Syrian people during his resistance against the global war launched on the country following the occupation of Iraq.

Editorial: Al-Jazeera channel and the collapse of professionalism
Throughout many years, numerous supporters of the Arab resistance disregarded the involvement of Al-Jazeera satellite channel in the most dangerous mission ever. Indeed, the channel has been involved in the domestication of the popular Arab conscience, through the introduction of the symbols of the Zionist entity to Arab homes, but also through its attempts to get the people accustomed to the idea that the Israeli war criminal and violating occupier is just another entity, with which it debated the justifications for the bloody crimes it committed on Arab land that is violated and exposed to its ongoing attacks.
In the face of the criticisms, the channel’s administration and employees, used expressions such as “going in line with the new political and media climate in the world” and under the banner of “the opinion and the other opinion,” i.e. Al-Jazeera’s favorite motto.
Those who criticized Al-Jazeera’s work and its media dealings with the Zionists since the Naqba, accepted a satisfactory compensation through the channel’s live and recognized interaction with the Palestinian uprising and the resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.
However, Al-Jazeera’s handling of the Syrian situation constituted a scandal and a final relinquishing of the minimum level of professionalism, as objective reports were replaced with direct political instigation against the Syrian command, and an intentional exaggeration of the events in accordance with the timing of the actions of organized groups involved in a plan to generate political and security turmoil inside of Syria.
Last Friday, and since the early hours of the morning, Al-Jazeera started to intensively and repeatedly broadcast - round the clock - a fabricated tape featuring old popular gatherings and demonstrations that were downloaded on some electronic websites weeks ago, while the broadcaster reiterated an instigative rhetoric calling for demonstrations, targeting the political régime of President Al-Assad and downplaying the importance of the decrees to end the state of emergency and organize the right to protest through the repetition of the expression: “This is not enough.” And when the protests and gatherings witnessed in the Syrian cities following the Friday prayers started, the channel began exaggerating its estimation of the size of the protests and the number of dead and wounded whom Al-Jazeera said were targeted by the security forces while completely disregarding the presence of victims in the ranks of the latter forces.
The mission of the satellite channel is definitely defined by its owner, i.e. the Prince of Qatar who is clearly involved in a plan to sabotage Syria based on an American assignment. However, what concerns us is the preservation of the minimum level of professionalism which requires separation between the facts which the channel is supposed to convey, and the political positions of its owner that should be conveyed as a public political opinion, far away from the game of exposed political instigation and the promotion of lies. Unfortunately, the channel’s administration, planners and “intellectuals” did not take into account what the following day might reveal, if the situation is exposed and if the outcome turns out to be different from the wishes of the American-Israeli planning rooms.

The Arab file

• The Syrian authorities announced they confiscated a large amount of weapons as they were being smuggled from Iraq on a truck driven by an Iraqi across Al-Tanf border crossing.
• The general director of customs, Mustafa al-Bekaei, was quoted as saying: “The confiscated weapons include all sorts of sophisticated machine guns, automatic rifles, sniper rifles, revolvers, grenade launchers and a massive quantity of ammunition.” He indicated: “Lately, other quantities of weapons were caught as they were being smuggled through Bab al-Hawwa and Al-Salama customs (the Turkish border) and Jdeidat Yabouss (the Lebanese border).”
The Washington Post said in a report that the American Department of State secretly funded the Syrian opposition, as it was revealed by diplomatic cables leaked by the Wikileaks website.
• The Syrian Interior Ministry called on the citizens to abstain from carrying out any marches, sit-ins or protests “under whichever headline,” assuring it will implement the laws in place to ensure the country’s stability. It explained: “The laws in Syria will be implemented to serve the security of the citizens and the country’s stability,” adding that what Syria was witnessing was “an armed rebellion staged by armed groups affiliated with Salafi organizations, especially in the cities of Homs and Baniyas.”
• Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem announced that what was happening in some Syrian cities required consideration, especially following the speech of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the new government and what it included, in terms of the lifting of the state of emergency and the partisan plurality law among other points.
He said: “We believe that whoever wants reform must express his opinion peacefully, considering that this reform is a national necessity and whoever wants it cannot use weapons and violence, resort to sabotage, burn down the state institutions or block the roads. Reform is a national necessity but it is also an ongoing process that requires security and stability.”
• The Syrian government ratified legislative draft decrees to annul the state of emergency and the state security court and organize the right to stage peaceful demonstrations.
• On Saturday, former Lebanese Minister Wi’am Wahhab revealed —during a televised interview— checks signs by Saudi Prince Turki Bin Abdul-Aziz to Lebanese Deputy Jamal al-Jarrah and Okab Sakr, as well as to the son of Abdul Halim Khaddam. This constituted additional proof for what the Syrian authorities had been repeating for a while now, regarding the involvement of regional sides and the Future Movement in the ongoing events in Syria.

• A GCC foreign ministers meeting was held in Riyadh, during which the Gulf States insisted on the implementation of the Gulf initiative the way it came out during the previous meeting. In the meantime, the Yemeni delegation insisted on the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
• On the field, many cities in Yemen are witnessing demonstrations loyal to or opposing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, while many dead and wounded are falling in the confrontations erupting throughout the country between the demonstrators and the security forces.
• For his part, President Saleh assured he was standing fast in face of the demonstrations demanding his departure and that he was holding on to constitutional legitimacy. On Sunday however, Saleh accepted the Gulf initiative to resolve the ongoing political crisis, knowing that this initiative features his departure from power within thirty days and the formation of a national unity government led by the opposition, in exchange for guarantees offered to him, his aides and relatives against any judicial pursuits.
• This devolvement raised a controversy within the opposition, between the parties which accepted the president’s immunity request and the opposition youth that rejected it, while insisting that the president should be subjected to judicial pursuit.

• Fighting is ongoing between the rebels and Gaddafi’s forces, as both sides are trying to gain control over the oil rich coastal city of Brega. These clashes resulted in the fall of many dead and wounded.
• UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for an immediate ceasefire in the country and expressed the international organization’s determination to extend the scope of its humanitarian aid to include Tripoli.
• For their part, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union supported the National Transitional Council as a legitimate interlocutor that represents the aspirations of the Libyan people. The two sides thus called for a real and immediate ceasefire, stressing at the end of the annual meeting that the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had lost its legitimacy.
• On the other hand, Tripoli called on the international community to adopt urgent measures to deal with the deviations affecting the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 that have turned into some sort of full maritime blockade.

• A governmental fact-finding report into the January 25 revolution is out, saying that former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli issued an order to fire live bullets at the demonstrators during the revolution.
• The Egyptian prosecution is still interrogating a number of symbols from the former regime, against the backdrop of several charges.
• On the other hand, everyone was surprised by the annulment of Prime Minister Issam Sharaf’s Gulf tour, as many linked it to disputes between the new Egyptian command and the Saudi leadership over the fate of Mubarak.

• Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Ben Salman al-Khalifa said that the protesters who had demanded his ousting will be questioned, describing the anti-governmental turmoil as being a coup attempt. The government arrested hundreds among those who participated in the protests, while the government-owned companies discharged the Shiites employees who were absent during the strike that was called for by the unions.
• The international unions association said that around two thousand workers who participated in the protests had been fired from their jobs, including twenty two unionist leaders. This statement added: “The authorities clearly targeted the workers due to their participation in unionist activities”, calling for the formation of an investigation committee. The opposition for its part stated that the government launched a fierce campaign against the Shiites, whether or not they participated in the protests.

The Israeli file

Israel mobilizes military forces due to fears from Hezbollah’s retaliation
Yediot Aharonot indicated that the Israeli security circles were in a state of fear over Hezbollah’s possible attempt to carry out an immediate operation against the Israelis or an Israeli representation office outside of Israel within the next few days, in order to retaliate for the assassination of leader in the party Imad Mughniyeh. It added that the fear was due to intelligence information saying that Hezbollah gave the green light for the implementations of the operation outside the Israeli border, while according to the estimations, Hezbollah’s favorite timing was the current Easter Holiday which coincides with the anniversary of the martyrs of the battles with Israel and Independence Day.

Syria precedes Israel in annulling emergency law
Haaretz assured that the emergency law has been in place in Israel before Syria, as the transitional government proclaimed the state of emergency four days following the announcement of the “establishment of the state of Israel” in 1948.
It added that the emergency law allowed the government to maneuver around the ordinary legislation measures and granted it wide prerogatives affecting human rights such as administrative arrests, the confiscation of lands, the arrest of “infiltrators”, and the imposition of restraints over “terrorism suspects.”

The Lebanese file

• Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati held a series of meetings and consultations with the presidents, politicians and ambassadors, focusing on the governmental issue.
Following this meeting with President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri said that the government was about to be formed but only after the holidays, assuring that the formation had reached the last stages and only required final touches.
However, Prime Minister Mikati cautioned in a statement distributed by his media office that the size of the Lebanese problems did not tolerate any interaction with what was happening in the Arab countries, considering that the repercussions will be very bad on Lebanon and the Lebanese, and especially those residing in these countries.

The controversy over the confession revealing involvement of Deputy Jamal al-Jarrah from the Future bloc in the Syrian events
Syrian Ambassador in Beirut Ali Abdul Karim Ali said to As-Safir that the response of the Future Movement and its allies to his recent statements fell in the context of pretexts and not that of the search for the truth. He believed that the exceptional relations between Lebanon and Syria and the two countries’ common security, required the unveiling of the truth, far away from protocol statements and measures. He added: “There are pieces of evidence backing up the confessions aired by the Syrian television, but whether or not they are published, what is required is for Lebanon to act upon the existing information.”
It is worth mentioning that despite the seriousness of this important information related to the involvement of Lebanese sides from the Future Movement in the events in Syria, no actions were undertaken —especially by the senior Lebanese officials— to activate judicial actions and investigate the claims, thus jeopardizing Lebanese-Syrian relations.

• Bkerki brought together President Amin Gemayel, head of the Marada Movement Suleiman Franjieh, head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea and head of the Change and Reform bloc Michel Aoun over a round table in the presence of Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi.
Bkerki issued a statement in which it said that the convened put forward the Christian principles on which they based their political action in Lebanon, as well as the national principles around which all the Lebanese people were rallied. The meeting was brotherly and purely national and was held in a climate of honesty, responsibility and kinship.

• On the security level, the kidnapped Estonians since March 23 appeared in a video posted on YouTube, and called on Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the Saudi and Jordanian monarchs and the French president to do something to help them return to their homes and families. General Director of the Internal Security Forces General Ashraf Rifi, told As-Safir that the recording featuring the kidnapped Estonians “is being thoroughly studied, but we have not yet reached a final reading. We are hoping that its content will reveal additional leads that will help the investigation.”

• UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the last few months did not witness any progress at the level of the disarmament of the militias, the greatest of which being Hezbollah. Commenting on this report, Hezbollah issued a statement in which it believed that it was not new for the secretary general to adopt unfair positions in his perception of the situation in Lebanon, and especially in holding the party responsible for all the problems in the country. The statement added that this was the nature of the mission he was assigned to implement by the American administration and some Western governments.

News analysis

Will Abu al-Walid exit his silence?
Signs of confusion have been prevailing over Hamas ever since the eruption of the turmoil in Syria and the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood organization’s clear involvement in weaving the strings of an international-regional game aiming at depleting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, with direct support from Qatar and under American sponsorship. This was directly seen in the confused position toward sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi’s rhetoric that was based on sectarian instigation in Syria, thus raising many angry reactions in wide religious and political circles, as well as in the ranks of the Syrian people. And although there is quasi-confirmed information about calls made by Hamas’s leaders to Qardawi to condemn his statements, the movement’s politburo chief, freedom fighter Khalid Meshaal, had to deny the content of a phone conversation between him and the sheikh who is living in Doha under the care of the prince of Qatar.
In the meantime, the officials in Damascus are praising the solidarity of Hamas’s command with the country, and the movement’s insistence on Syria’s stability. Therefore, it can be concluded that the Syrian command does not wish to embarrass its allies and that what was said about discussions within Hamas is probably true —or at least that the dispute between Hamas and the MB organization over Syria is ongoing and has not been yet settled—.
Hamas knows what Syria represents at the level of the Arab-Israeli conflict equation, while its command knows that the Muslim Brotherhood organization in Syria is involved in an American conspiracy aiming at dissociating Damascus from the resistance movements in the region and especially the Palestinian ones. If this is put on a scale, it cannot be compared to the offer to open contact channels with the United States and NATO through Erdogan and the Prince of Qatar who is heralding Obama’s democracy in the region.
Hamas also knows that the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood did not adopt a morally acceptable position during the war on Gaza and that the Syrian-Iranian alliance was the one that activated the equations and the regional balances in favor of the resistance. In the meantime, the MB’s blunt involvement in Washington’s plan to deplete Syria and target the resistance bloc in the region can compensate for Israel’s numerous losses and defeats. So will Khalid Meshaal exit his silence and condemn all those involved in the plan to sabotage Syria?

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