International affairs

Editorial: The possibilities of regional war, between the threats and the facts
The Israeli papers spoke about the readiness of Netanyahu’s government to address a military strike to Iran while many analysts linked the fabricated American accusations made by Obama’s administration to the Islamic Republic of Iran [1] to such a possible attack through the creation of a climate of tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. Such a climate would then be exploited to ensure Saudi facilitations to the Israeli warplanes to target the Iranian nuclear facilities. Some are connecting these scenarios to the missile shield installed in Turkey to preempt a possible Iranian response which the Americans and the Israelis know will be conducted through heavy missile attacks targeting the Israeli depth. Some are going even further by expecting the opening of the Syria, Lebanon and Gaza fronts and Iran’s bombardment of the American military bases in the Gulf. The announcement made by American President Barack Obama regarding the full withdrawal of the American occupation forces from Iraq by the end of the year enhanced the belief in the ranks of some experts regarding the fact that the US is vacating the scene for a major regional war, thus preventing the Iraqi forces allied with Iran and the Revolutionary Guard’s special units from targeting the American troops.
There is no doubt that an important portion of the facts falls in the context of the psychological war waged by the Western camp against Iran and the forces of resistance and independence in the region.
Israel is going through a predicament and the swap deal in which Netanyahu was forced to succumb to the conditions of the Hamas command, convey the actual balance of powers between Israel and the resistance bloc in the region. The Israeli impotence in the face of the Gaza Strip is enough to prove the efficiency of the strategic deterrence capability enjoyed by this system that includes Iran, Syria and the resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine. On the other hand, Israel is afraid of seeing Iraq –in the post-American withdrawal phase- turning into a key component in the latter regional bloc.
Moreover, it has become clear that any targeting of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine will trigger regional war and that any military harassment of Syria, whether by Turkey, NATO or Israel will lead to such a war. It is also obvious that an Israeli air raid against any location in Iran will not go by easily and will provoke a storm of missiles which will hit many positions in the occupied land of Palestine and the Gulf region. This will definitely not constitute a pleasant journey for any among the sides of the Western alliance, for its regional tools and for Israel of course.

Arab Affairs

News analysis: What is happening in the real Syria?
The Syrian national state is continuing to pursue and dismantle the armed gangs and militias affiliated with the Syrian opposition movements and especially the Istanbul transitional council which announced once again its rejection of dialogue after its wagers on foreign military intervention in the country recently mounted.
The protests organized by the supporters of the Syrian opposition movements have retreated, despite the insistence of the forces activating the plan against Syria to establish a fictive media image revealing the existence of protests and demonstrations being deterred by the Syrian forces by use of arms. It is no longer possible to accept the claims saying that a popular rebellion and revolution is being organized by the opposition movements in Syria as it is no longer acceptable to see claims saying that a spontaneous popular uprising is sweeping Syria, considering that the European centers supporting the opposition movements and the Western intelligence apparatuses are in agreement over the fact that the number of the Friday demonstrators throughout Syria ranged between four thousand on “the international protection day” and twenty six thousands on the “transitional council day”.
This means that the Syrian opposition movements’ ability to mobilize the Syrian people against the Syrian authorities does not exceed 4,000 out of 23 million at the level of requesting foreign intervention and 26,000 out of 23 million at the level of the toppling of the regime.
Last Friday, the news reports tackling Syrian affairs focused on information talking about the fall of dead and wounded in the Homs province. The media outlets committed blunt falsification when they said that this outcome resulted from the security forces’ deterrence of the protests, although it has become known that Homs is witnessing mobile clashes between the Syrian army and the armed groups that are still carrying out kidnapping, killing and ambushes and barricading themselves in some towns, villages and a number of neighborhoods in the city of Homs. The Syrian state is dealing with this reality with extreme caution in order to protect the lives of the innocent civilians, and unlike the lies promoted by some oppositionists through known media outlets, the Syrian state did not use heavy artillery in the battles which have been ongoing there for months, while neither tanks nor military helicopters were used in the pursuits.
As for the Arab League whose delegation will visit the Syrian capital on Wednesday, it appeared to be –during its last meeting- governed by equations and balances that do not pave the way before the position through which the Arab governments that are dealing with the West wish to provide a cover for a military incursion carried out by NATO against Syria. And to whom it may concern, the Western capitals were informed by Iran, Damascus and the resistance forces about the existence of a list of strategic targets which will be hit in response to any decision to wage war on Syria, regardless of its source. This is now part of the calculations, in light of information saying that the American Administration informed more than one regional and international side that it was unable to find a way to enter Syria for reasons related to the regional situation and exceeding the political deterrence represented by the double Russian-Chinese veto.
The workshop of dialogue and reforms will constitute the content of the action inside of Syria. As for the foreign pressures that will not stop, they seem unable to achieve any breakthrough in light of the national immunity and the popular support enjoyed by the Syrian national state, its president and its army.

The Arab file

• The Hamas delegation signed the prisoners swap deal with Israel following indirect talks conducted by the two sides in Cairo. 477 Palestinian detainees were released during the first stage in exchange for the surrender of soldier Gilad Shalit, while Israel will release a second group including 550 Palestinian detainees within the next two months. On Tuesday, celebrations were witnessed in the West Bank and Gaza to welcome the released detainees, while in the Strip, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh assured: “The prisoners swap deal with the Israeli occupation marks a strategic turning point affecting the nature of the conflict.”
• For his part, Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal stressed that this deal was secured by the heroism of the fighters who achieved victory over the army of the Israeli occupation and was drawn up by the Palestinian security mind of the resistance in Gaza which achieved victory over the Israeli security mind that is backed up by technological means.

• Ambassador Youssef Ahmad, Syria’s permanent envoy at the Arab League and the head of its delegation to the League’s urgent meeting held upon an invitation from the GCC, announced Syria’s reservations over the decision issued by the Arab League Council and especially over the assignment of the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister to the presidency of the Arab ministerial committee. The official Syrian SANA news agency quoted Ambassador Ahmad as saying: “Syria expressed reservations over the decision’s featuring of a call for comprehensive dialogue at the Arab League headquarters. Syria is an independent and sovereign state led by a legitimate authority and is capable of managing the country’s affairs and protecting its security and the safety of its citizens. Any national dialogue can only be held on Syria soil with the participation of all the societal factions and in the presence of the Arab League.”
• During the consultations, more than one Arab country rejected the draft presented by the GCC states to freeze Syria’s membership at the League. These countries included Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq. In the meantime, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree to form a national committee to draw up a constitution draft for Syria in preparation for the ratification of the new constitution. The committee should complete its work within a period not exceeding four months.
• More than one and a half million citizens from the province of Aleppo gathered to stage a popular march and express their support in favor of the national decision, their insistence on this decision’s autonomy, their backing of the reform course led by President Bahsar al-Assad and their rejection of all forms of foreign interference in Syrian affairs.

• The forces of the new Libyan regime gained full control over the cities of Bani Walid and Sirte. The national transitional council announced the killing of Gaddafi and his son Al-Moutassem by the revolutionaries, while NATO announced in a statement that aircrafts affiliated with it bombed vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gaddafi on the outskirts of Sirte [2]. Images showed that Gaddafi was apprehended while still alive, but a few hours later, his corpse was shown to the public in the city of Missratah. The same happened with his son Al-Moutassem who appeared on video while in good health after being taken captive, before the revolutionary forces showed his corpse a few hours later. Great confusion prevailed over the way Gaddafi and his son were killed and conflicting reports emerged in various media outlets regarding this issue. This drove the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission to call for the formation of an investigation committee to elucidate the details of the operation.

• Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh stated: “We are willing to sign the Gulf initiative, whether I or my deputy. But we must have Gulf, European and American guarantees regarding the opposition’s commitment to the implementation of the initiative.”
• In the meantime, the clashes between the forces loyal to President Saleh and those opposing him intensified, and the bloody acts of violence caused the fall of a number of dead and wounded. On the other hand, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on President Saleh to sign an agreement, based on which he would relinquish power and end the operations of oppression targeting the demonstrations.

• Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad announced that “the American accusations regarding the existence of a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington are groundless and do not go in line with our principles.” He considered: “This is an attempt to shift the attention away from the problems facing the United States. America’s accusations also aim at creating dispute between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” assuring at the same time that this incident did not affect the relations between Riyadh and Teheran.

• American President Barack Obama announced on Friday he will pull out all the US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, around nine years following the American invasion of the country. In this context, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held a press conference in which he made a similar announcement, stressing that the Iraqi security forces had been handling the security affairs of the country since 2008 and that any US soldier who remains in Iraq will not enjoy any immunity.

Saudi Arabia
• Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul-Aziz passed away in an American hospital after long months of treatment. Sultan had left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in June and never returned. The funerals will be held on Tuesday and the condolences will take place on Wednesday. It is important to note that this is the first time that the heir to the throne passes away before the king, which will leave the door wide open before disputes within the ruling family over power and succession. At this level, one should mention that Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz who is almost 90 years old had just left the hospital where he was being treated and it is said that his health condition is deteriorating.

Israeli file

• The release of soldier Gilad Shalit seized the attention of all the Israeli papers issued this week. Indeed, after five years of detention, Shalit returned to Israel in exchange for the release of 1027 Palestinians who headed to Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Following the completion of the first stage of the deal, opposing voices started to emerge since some considered this deal –at the level of its strategic meaning- constituted a form of submission. Others said it enhanced the “spider web theory” of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
• In that same context, the papers considered that Shalit’s deal revealed the limited capabilities of the Israeli intelligence apparatuses and enhanced the possible repetition of the kidnapping operations. It also belittled the chances of peace and the renewal of the negotiations between the Palestinian authority and Israel in the near future. The only positive facet of this deal according to the Israeli press is that it improved Egyptian-Israeli relations after they have been massively damaged due to the events in the region.

Lebanese affairs

News analysis: The tribunal, the false witnesses and sovereignty
There is a lot of talk in the Lebanese media about the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, while the march 14 team is trying to create a threatening climate around this issue in the face of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, especially at the level of the repercussions which the decision not to fund the tribunal could have on Lebanon.
 Firstly, this tribunal was formed in an unconstitutional way and based on the request of a prime minister who violated the prerogatives of the presidency of the republic and addressed the United Nations to secure the issuance of a decision for the formation of the tribunal via international tutelage over the Lebanese state and the replacement of the constitutional institutions by the Security Council. What happened at the level of the formation of the tribunal was a coup carried out by an unconstitutional power against the constitutional institutions. Hence, the only Lebanese position that goes in line with the logic of sovereignty and the law would be to write to the Security Council and request the disbandment of the tribunal instead of its funding, then going back to the decision adopted by the national dialogue conference which was held at the Lebanese parliament to establish a Lebanese tribunal with an international character under Lebanese law and sovereignty.
 Secondly, the structural flaws revealed within the tribunal, especially in terms of the ties enjoyed by many among its experts, investigators, counselors and judges with Israel and the American and British intelligence apparatuses render this tribunal a source of shame for any Lebanese citizen. The course of the international investigation since the Mehlis committee constitutes a major scandal and requires at the very least a comprehensive and drastic Lebanese reviewing of all the decisions adopted by the government since the signing of the dubious protocol drawn up by former Justice Minister Charles Rizk and by which he relinquished any authority in favor of a judicial and security body managed by the so-called international community, i.e. the United States and its government which is supporting Israel and all its hostile wars against Lebanon.
 Thirdly, the opening of the false witnesses file and the accountability of all the Lebanese officials in it, is the least that could be done by the current Lebanese government instead of allocating new sums from the Lebanese people’s money to fund an elite group of spies and enable them to continue implementing the American instructions aiming at striking the Lebanese resistance, ruining its reputation and reviving a climate of internal strife.
Based on the principles of sovereignty and independence, the toppling of this tribunal should be a political goal sought by the real sovereign leaders. As for those defending the authority of tutelage and conspiracy represented by the tribunal, they are part of the choir heralding the new era of tutelage that is wanted for the region, so that Israel can impose its hegemony and its recognition as a Jewish state.

Lebanese file

• Pre-trial judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Daniel Fransen announced that the accused in the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri could now be tried in absentia, after a 30-day public advertisement asking the at-large individuals to turn themselves in has expired. In the meantime, the head of the STL Judge Antonio Cassese who had resigned from the tribunal a few weeks ago passed away after a long struggle with illness.
• Head of the change and reform bloc Deputy Michel Aoun said: “There is no predicament at the level of the funding of the tribunal just because a person wants it.” He wondered: “Why should we pay the tribunal in the absence of any agreement? Let those who want to fund it do it out of their own pockets.”
• Deputy Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stated for his part: “We have agreed to discuss everything inside the Cabinet freely. Each has his opinion and his position but even at the level of the difficult and complicated issues, if we are unable to reach an agreement, we will conduct voting inside the government. The majority would then adopt the direction to be followed and the others would have to commit to it. By doing so, we would clearly be expressing our commitment to the Lebanese system at the level of the formation of the government, the ministerial statement and the various decisions which will be adopted.”

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[1« Was the "Iranian plot" hatched in the USA? », by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 21 octobrer 2011.

[2« The lynching of Muammar Gaddafi », by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 21 october 2011.