International affairs

Editorial: The US defeat in Afghanistan

The Afghan events and their echoes inside the American Congress revealed secret negotiations between President Barack Obama’s administration and the command of the Taliban movement since before the announcement of the death of leader of Al-Qaeda organization Osama Ben Laden. This was preceded by a step on Washington’s end and based on the conditions of Mullah Omar’s aides to start writing off the names of the wanted among the movement’s leaders and cadres from the international lists that were distributed by the American intelligence to all the security apparatuses around the world since 2001. American and British journalistic reports mentioned that over 120 leaders and cadres from the Taliban are no longer wanted by Interpol and Western security.
According to American experts there is a direct link between the ongoing secret negotiations and the decision of the American president to lower the number of troops in Afghanistan in the context of a plan to leave this country under the slogan of transferring power from the NATO forces to the local government.
Karzai’s government publically objected the reports regarding the new negotiations and rejected American proposals to quickly lower the number of NATO troops. Moreover, Kabul did not conceal its belief that the Taliban fighters will fill any vacuum which might be produced by the NATO troops’ withdrawal. But certainly, the United States did not pay any attention to the calls of the puppet regime it established under Karzai’s presidency who wanted the US to use him as an exclusive channel to talk to the Taliban, in the hope of reserving a comfortable seat in the equation which will prevail following the American exit.
Some strategic analysts believe that Afghanistan will not be far from the threats of civil war in parallel to the permission granted by the American occupation to the movement to extend its influence inside Pakistan, which is in turn drowning in turmoil and deep crises open to domestic infighting.

News analysis: On the threshold of the Syrian dialogue
The national dialogue committee in Syria set a deadline for its consultations and efforts to launch the national dialogue which is counted on by the Syrian citizens in general to produce a political understanding over the content and the implementation schedule of the reforms. The events shed light on a series of signs revealing the predicament reached by the international-regional alliance that is hostile toward Syria and is led by the United States and Israel.
 Firstly: The clear Russian position proved it would be impossible to secure the issuance of a resolution at the Security Council to allow any form of foreign interference in Syria. This would not have been possible had it not been for the popular support enjoyed by President Al-Assad and the exposure of the actual role played by the terrorist groups in Syria.
 Secondly: The information related to the role of the US embassy and intelligence apparatuses in urging the Syrian opposition to cooperate with the calls for national dialogue issued by President Al-Assad, clearly points to the shift affecting the American position towards Syria after Washington discovered it would be useless to wager on the Syrian opposition abroad.
 Thirdly: The Syrian command was able to tighten its control over all the border areas and to deliver a strong and stringent message to the Turkish command through the deployment of the Syrian army in the border regions hosting the Takfiri and rebellious armed men. The new Turkish rhetoric is going in line with the American one in regard to Syria and reflects the balance which was instated by President al-Assad.
 Fourthly: The determination to launch national dialogue and the coolness with which the Syrian command is dealing with the opposition domestically and abroad and with the foreign interferences in Syrian affairs, aim at leading the country out of the crisis and at mobilizing the Syrian society to enhance steadfastness in the face of the hostile sabotage plan.

The Arab file

Syria, as a people, an army and a command is about to exit the crisis in parallel to the army’s and the security forces’ cleansing of some cities from the armed elements. In the meantime, division emerged between the Syrian opposition forces domestically and aboard after the opposition that held its first conference in Damascus rejected foreign interference.
The national dialogue committee announced following its meeting which was headed by Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa that “there is no alternative for the political handling with its various dimensions,” setting a date for the consultative meeting which will pave the way before the national dialogue conference on July 10.
In the meantime, the popular and unionist figures in the Syrian provinces proceeded with their intensified national activities to express their support toward the comprehensive reform program through campaigns to donate blood and support the Syrian pound, but also through crowded marches in Damascus and its Rif, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Hassaka, Daraa and Souweida.
For their part, the Syrian oppositionists who came together in the first of its kind meeting in Damascus since the beginning of the protests – a meeting which was described by Washington as being important - called for the establishment of a democratic system to exit the crisis and expressed their rejection of the security option to resolve the deep and structural political crisis endured by Syria. They also announced their rejection of any calls for internationalization or foreign interference in Syria’s domestic affairs.

The international criminal court issued arrest warrants against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, his son Sayf al-Islam and commander of military intelligence Abdullah al-Sannoussi, after they were accused of having committed crimes against humanity in Libya.
The head of the national transitional council - i.e. the political committee representing the rebels - welcomed the issuance of the arrest warrants. In the meantime, a climate of joy came to prevail over the city of Benghazi whose population expressed its joy by shooting bullets in the air.

Israel warned foreign journalists that they could be prevented from entering the country for ten years in case they were to join the new freedom flotilla which plans on defying the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. The majority of the states, namely the United States, France and Greece advised their citizens not to participate.
In Athens however, the foreign participants in the Freedom Flotilla 2 expressed their insistence on moving forward with their humanitarian action to break the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, despite the Israeli sabotage attempts that affected two among the ships.
In Gaza, the higher committee for the lifting of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip warned against a possible Israeli attack on the ships of Freedom Flotilla 2, calling on the United Nations to assume its responsibility, to provide the fleet with protection and prevent “Israeli piracy.”

Thirteen political movements and seven parties announced they will launch an open sit-in on Tahrir Square in support of the families of the martyrs and the injured during their protest and until their demands are achieved, namely the immediate discontinuation of the trying of civilians before military courts, the staging of public trials for those accused of having killed the revolutionaries, allowing the people and the families of the martyrs to attend these trials and the discharging of the officers being prosecuted.

The capital Sana’a among other Yemeni cities witnessed marches staged by the organizational committee of the youth and popular revolution to demand the departure of the Yemeni president’s sons from the country and the formation of a transitional council that would replace the ruling regime. The demonstrators also demanded the trying in court of the security officials involved in the killing of the peaceful protesters in Taez and the other Yemeni cities.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qorbi assured after having visited President Saleh at a hospital in Riyadh that the latter had instructed his government and party to deal positively with the Gulf initiative and the Security Council statement issued last Friday in regard to the mounting crisis, in order to lead Yemen out of its current predicament.
On the other hand, prominent tribal leader Sheikh Sadik al-Ahmar said that President Saleh’s regime committed more human rights violations in Yemen than any other regime.

The Israeli file

The Israeli papers issued this week followed the latest developments regarding the flotilla that is heading to Gaza and said that the naval and air forces will be in a state of mobilization throughout the next few days to deal with the situation in case the ships were to sail towards the coasts of Gaza. The papers also tackled other topics, namely the Israeli preparations to face massive demonstrations in September, the American-Israeli pressures to ensure the release of the Israeli spy arrested in Cairo, the threat to invade South Lebanon and the secret visit conducted by head of Israeli military intelligence General Aviv Kochavi to the United States to warn against the delivery of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The papers also addressed the indictment issued by the international tribunal looking into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, as well as the arrest warrants issued against a number of elements who were said to be members of Hezbollah by Lebanese sources.

Lebanese Affairs

Editorial: The government to earn the vote of confidence and the opposition to reach a predicament
Within a few days, Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government will exit parliament after having earned the vote of confidence of the parliamentary majority based on the Cabinet statement it ratified despite the event imposed by the expected American step seen in the dispatch of STL representatives to the Justice Ministry in Beirut to deliver the indictment.
Prime Minister Mikati’s government was able to ratify the ministerial statement and confront the challenge of the indictment while political and media tensions came to prevail over the March 14 forces that appeared to be on the verge of declaring a state of war, without knowing who to fight and where to fight.
 Firstly: the government calmly drew up a course to deal with the indictment and the arrest warrants that accompanied it based on the tribunal paragraph in the former ministerial statement.
 Secondly: the opposition led by the March 14 forces against the government is facing a new predicament due to several factors, namely:
• The March 14 speeches featuring calls to topple the government actually reveal that all that is required from the campaign against the government is the return of Saad al-Hariri to power and this is costing this campaign its credibility after it depleted all the possible ways to exploit the blood of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri ever since his assassination.
• The domestic strife project which the Future Movement recently tried to test in the city of Tripoli seemed to be impossible to achieve after the attempt failed in more than one region in which Al-Hariri was counting on his influence over the local population and forces.
• A series of internal reports circulating within the March 14 forces revealed a serious fear over the advancement of a new Christian political axis including Patriarch Al-Rahi, president Michel Suleiman, Minister Suleiman Franjieh and all the Christian sides participating in the majority and who agree over the fact that any threat affecting Syria will affect the Christian presence in Lebanon and the region.

The Lebanese file

The indictment
International prosecutor Daniel Bellemare issued his indictment in regard to the assassination of martyred Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and the tribunal’s delegation delivered it to Lebanese Prosecutor Said Mirza at the Justice Ministry, along with arrest warrants against four Lebanese citizens. Mirza immediately launched the necessary measures for the implementation of these warrants. The STL announced in two statements that the pre-trial judge ratified the indictment on Tuesday28 June, indicating that this ratification “means that judge Fransen is convinced there is enough evidence to move to trial… However, this is not a conviction and any accused is innocent until proved guilty.” The STL also revealed that Fransen decided to maintain the accusation’s secrecy “to help the Lebanese authorities remain loyal to their commitment to arrest the accused.”
Prime Minister Najib Mikati assured that the principle of the tribunal was the object of consensus at first but that later on, it turned out to feature numerous flaws which led to the collapse of the consensus. He then warned against leading the country towards strife and called for wisdom and insight in the search for the truth, far away from any maneuvers.
He added to As-Safir that following the contacts he made, he was reassured that there will be no strife in Lebanon caused by the issuance of the indictment. He continued that the government will proceed with its work following the ratification of the ministerial statement and was looking forward to earning the vote of confidence of parliament which will likely hold its session next Monday. He stated: “We do not wish to create a state of panic and tensions in the country due to an international indictment that is beyond our control. The situation is good and normalcy will be maintained whether at the level of the Lebanese judiciary or the prosecution.”
As for former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, he addressed the Lebanese from abroad and believed that the issuance of the indictment was an exceptional and historical moment in Lebanon’s life, hoping it would constitute a turning point at the level of the fight against organized political crime in Lebanon and the Arab region. He assured that the course of justice should not be obstructed and that the issuance of the indictment should constitute an opportunity for the Lebanese state to assume its responsibilities, calling on the government to implement Lebanon’s commitments to the tribunal and not to elude that responsibility.
Deputy Walid Jumblatt said in a press conference there was an odd simultaneity between the delivery of the indictment, the leaking of the names and the formation of the government. He indicated that the commitment of the ministerial statement and the prime minster to cooperation with the tribunal “completely went against all that was promoted by the opposition during the previous stages regarding the fact that the government wanted to place Lebanon in a confrontation with the international community.” He assured that the main issue was concomitance between stability and justice, quoting the late Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri who said: “No one is bigger than his country.”
A much awaited speech was delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday in response to the delivery of the indictment by the STL and the fact that four Hezbollah elements were accused of being implicated in the assassination. He thus showed irrefutable evidence proving that the tribunal was politicized since the very beginning, pointing to the fact that one of the prominent figures of this tribunal appeared in a tape while taking a bribe. Sayyed Nasrallah produced evidence showing that the judges and the main STL investigators were closely linked to the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.
At this level, AFP and AP carried the following report on Saturday:
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ruled out the arrest of four members of his party indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese former premier Rafik al-Hariri. In his first reaction to the charges by the STL, Nasrallah also rejected "each and every void accusation" made by the Netherlands-based court, which he said was heading for a trial in
"We reject the Special Tribunal for Lebanon along with each and every void accusation it issues, which to us is equivalent to an attack on Hezbollah," Nasrallah said in an hour-long televised speech.
"No Lebanese government will be able to carry out any arrests whether in 30 days, 30 years or even 300 years," said the Shiite leader whose group dominates the current government.
"What will happen is a trial in absentia, a trial in which the verdict has already been reached,
” he declared.
The whereabouts of the four remain unknown.
Nasrallah went on to accuse top investigators at the tribunal, including the first U.N. chief investigator, Detlev Mehlis, and his deputy, Gerhard Lehmann, of corruption.
The tribunal is full of "financial and moral corruption," Nasrallah said.
"Do you expect this tribunal to be fair with resistance fighters who fought against Israel?" he said. "This tribunal, since the beginning, was formed for a clear political target."
But Nasrallah sought to allay concerns of civil strife and said "there will be no civil war in Lebanon."
"This is because there is a responsible government in Lebanon that will not act with revenge," he added.

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