Arab Affairs

Editorial: Israel: from concerns to strategic suffocation
The strategic report issued by the national security studies center at Tel Aviv University seized great attention in light of the conclusions it reached and the fact that it considered that Israel’s future was at risk [Download the document at the bottom of this page]. It seemed clear that the axes tackled by the report were linked to the great predicament endured by Israel ever since it lost its strategic deterrence power in the 2006 war, after it used to be perceived as being the dominating power in the region.
The rise of the Iranian power continues to be a main source of concern in Israel under the headline of the threats of the Iranian nuclear file. The facts show that the US and the Western countries have started to deal with this file from a powerless position based on the fact that its outcome cannot be changed or shifted after Iran acquired the enrichment technologies. Moreover, since the victory of the revolution, Iran established an advanced scientific and industrial structure and achieved self-sufficiency in many economic areas. Consequently it managed to overcome the sanctions and the blockade which were activated at the end of the eighties of last century, while the Western plans aiming at depleting Iran from within were defeated.
There is a state of strategic confusion and puzzlement that is growing in Israel vis-à-vis the Iranian strength as revealed by known analyst Nahum Barnea, who pointed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s inclination to plan a military strike against Iran following the American exit from Iraq. On the other hand, numerous Israeli circles are warning against the aftermath of any military action targeting Iran, considering that such an action would definitely not be able to destroy its strength and consequently its ability to respond. Hence, hell will blockade Israel from all sides, as Syria and the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements are ready to attack it.
The calculations concerning Israel on the other fronts are related to the growing capabilities of the resistance powers and the recovery affecting the Syrian situation following the crises and the troubles which the Western plan failed to transform into a serious threat facing the country.
The Israeli experts also introduced two new elements at the level of the strategic assessment. The climate of the Arab popular protests is heralding the interaction of the Arab communities with any war waged by Israel, in a way enhancing the anti-Israeli movements and states. This was particularly confirmed by the transformations witnessed on the Egyptian street ever since the storming of the Israeli embassy. The Egyptian front has consequently become part of the Israeli military plans for the years to come after a long absence.
In this strategic climate that is filled with concerns and tensions, the Israeli experts are fearful about the rise of what they dubbed Israel’s isolation and the stripping of its legitimacy in light of the calls to boycott the Israeli products exported from the settlements throughout Europe, knowing that the report issued by the national security studies center said they could affect all the products coming from Israel.

News analysis: Syrian opposition movements in a state of confusion following failure
The last two weeks witnessed million-man marches in Damascus, Aleppo, Hasaka and Latakia. The participants raised slogans in support of President Al-Assad and his reformatory program and focused on the rejection of foreign intervention regardless of its source. This could be interpreted as being an embodiment of the choices of the popular majority in Syria, at a time when the protests were limited to the narrow border of the opposition organizations’ partisans, knowing that these organizations’ leading structures are divided between the internal arena - that is rejecting interference and showing leniency towards the calls for dialogue - and the external arena that was described by the American-Israeli coordination team as being a gathering of old people yearning for money and positions and have been linked to the Western and regional intelligence apparatuses for many years. This opposition is extremely fearful that dialogue might take place between the national state and some leaders in the internal opposition, especially after the Turkish and Qatari governments failed directly and indirectly –via the Arab League- to impose the Istanbul council as the exclusive representative of the conflicting opposition movements domestically and abroad.
At this level, it would be useful to look into the fictive depiction of the Syrian events. Indeed, Al-Jazeera channel aired on Friday a series of footages showing the funerals organized in a number of cities and towns in Edlib, Homs and Hama, some of which for armed men belonging to the militias of the Istanbul Council who were killed in clashes with the Syrian Arab army. Although coffins could be detected in many scenes, still, the channel said that the participants in the funerals were protesters in the demonstrations organized by the opposition on the “Friday of the air ban”.
The funerals seen on the screens went by peacefully and did not witness any security incidents, which caused clear confusion at the level of the media fabrication plan led by Al-Jazeera in cooperation with the Syrian opposition movements from an operations room in Doha.
The confusion and political turmoil were also clear in the interviews aired by Al-Jazeera with the opposition spokesperson, some of whom had been dubbed eyewitnesses during the last few months. When Al-Jazeera’s anchors asked those whom they contacted about the marches, the demonstrations and the gatherings and whether or not they were subjected to shooting, the spokespersons could not present one incident confirming their claims regarding the shooting at the alleged demonstrators by the army or the security forces.
The falsification of the facts then reached a high level of bankruptcy after the crowds gathered by the opposition movement became limited to a few hundred people in the towns and the cities’ streets outside the mosques, as they barely amounted to a few thousands throughout Syria. On the other hand, signs pointing to divisions in the ranks of the Syrian opposition movements have emerged and the evidence witnessed on Thursday and Friday could be summarized by the following.
 1. Abdul Halim Khaddam decided – along with a number of partners - to found his own transitional council from Paris after he has become an excluded symbol from the opposition’s meetings in Istanbul and Doha.
 2. The Kurds of the Istanbul Council condemned the statement which was issued by the council and in which it described the Kurdistan Workers Party as being a terrorist organization, while reports revealed it as likely to see a Kurdish dissent within the council imminently.
 3. Dispute erupted within the Istanbul council over its chairmanship between several figures, namely Borhan Ghalioun and Haitham al-Maleh.
 4. Mohammad Rahhal, who calls himself the head of the coordination committees’ union, publically announced the presence of four military formations affiliated with the democratic opposition, rejecting the calls to uphold the peacefulness of the protests.
 5. A number of opposition movements abroad attacked one of the symbols of the democratic opposition, i.e. Michel Kilo, accusing him of treason for having published an article in which he called for reconsidering participation in the dialogue with the state.
In conclusion, the opposition movements that are implicated in the foreign plan are turning towards terrorism while facing a new and serious predicament, i.e. the presence of an overwhelming popular majority that is supporting the state, its president and army.

News analysis: Islamic regimes on the horizons of the Arab countries!
Throughout decades, the Arab populations lived under dictatorial and oppressive regimes which impoverished, starved and deprived the people of their simplest democratic rights. There is no doubt according to some analysts and experts that these regimes played an important role in the formation of the religious political parties in some Arab Maghreb countries and Egypt among other states in the region, as these parties exploited poverty, unemployment and political corruption to earn supporters.
The ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey - led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan - inspired the religious parties which strongly returned to the political arena following the Arab revolutions. For his part, the Turkish prime minister tried to get these parties on his side, especially in Egypt, by shedding light and promoting the success of the Turkish experience during his last visit to Cairo. Erdogan’s anti-Israeli stand also contributed to the endorsement of his experience among the religious parties, in the context of an attempt to dub himself an Arab leader. But looking into the Turkish reality, we can see that Turkey is a secular state which is consequently not implementing Islamic rule, in addition to it being a member of NATO. In Egypt, the situation is different as mystery is surrounding the vision of the Muslim Brotherhood in light of what is being said about an agreement under American and Turkish auspices to divide power between the group and the army in a way similar to the Turkish model.
+ On the other hand, the MB is facing the defiance of other Islamic movements that are calling for the implementation of the Islamic Shariaa as it is the case in Saudi Arabia. For example, Egyptian Salafi leader Sheikh Mahmud Amer issued a fatwa prohibiting the voting in favor of a Muslim candidate who does not pray, or Coptic secular or liberal candidates whose programs do not include the implementation of the Shariaa. In the end, the wager remains on the extent of the Islamic parties’ openness in their advanced position in the political authority without excluding the other sides, as well as on their ability to follow independent policies serving the interests of their countries and people through the achievement of social, economic and political development. As for the greater wager it remains over the vitality of the Arab people and their refusal to go back to oppression, tyranny and monopolization in the future.

The Arab file

• The Tunisian voters flocked to the polling centers to cast their votes in the first free elections held in their country after the fall of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime. Kamal al-Jandubi, the head of the independent electoral commission for the Constituent Assembly elections in Tunisia, announced that the level of participation reached around 90%. He said during a press conference in Tunis: “The Islamic Ennahda Party won by the 41.47% of the votes, which qualified it to earn 90 out 217 seats in the national Constituent Assembly.”
• In Sidi Bouzid, violence erupted after the electoral committee announced the annulment of the lists of Al-Hamidi who belongs to the Sidi Bouzid province.
• For his part, leader of Ennhada Rached al-Ghannouchi called on all the Tunisians to reject violence, stressing that his movement was committed to the respect of all the international agreements and that the new government will be formed within ten days.

• International Quartet envoy Tony Blair believed that the uprisings of the so-called Arab Spring demanding democracy in Arab countries threatened to undermine the region’s stability, which confirmed the necessity of reviving the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.
• On Saturday, Israel launched an attack against the Gaza Strip, leading to the death of six Islamic Jihad elements. For its part, the latter organization immediately responded to the attack by launching rockets onto Israel, thus prompting a serious escalation of the situation.

• Damascus summoned its ambassador in Washington, Imad Mustafa, after Washington had asked its ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford to leave the Syrian capital. This forced the American Department of State to anticipate the situation by announcing that Ford was on a vacation which ended during the second half of November, after which he will be returning to his office in the Syrian capital. President Bashar al-Assad met with the Arab ministerial committee headed by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem Ben Jabr al-Thani. A presidential statement said that the meeting tackled the Arab initiative which addressed the situation in Syria and witnessed friendly and honest discussions in regard to the developments in the country. It was agreed to hold a second meeting between the Arab committee and the Syrian government on Sunday.
• Crowded marches in support of President Al-Assad accompanied the arrival of the ministerial delegation to Damascus and were staged on the Omayyad square and the streets surrounding it. Also, more than one million citizens gathered in Latakia to express support towards reform and the independent national decision and voice their rejection of foreign interference in all its forms.

• The head of the Libyan transitional council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, announced during a crowded celebration in Benghazi Libya’s “liberation” from Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and his country’s adoption of the Islamic Shariaa as the main source of legislation.
• American President Barack Obama said in a statement: “The US looks forward to working with the transitional council and the new government.” In the meantime, an official in the military council - affiliated with the national transitional council - in the city of Misratah announced that the corpse of former leader Muammar Gaddafi was buried on Monday night in a secret location in the desert. Moreover, the corpses of his son Moutassem and his former defense minister Abu Baker Younes were also buried in that same secret location.
• For his part, Sayf al-Islam, the son of Gaddafi, announced that he was ready to hand himself over to the International Court in The Hague. In this context, international prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said that the tribunal was indirectly negotiating with Sayf al-Islam over his surrender on charges of involvement in crimes against humanity in Libya.

• The demonstrations calling for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh continued, while the protesters raised the banner of the revolutionary action to end Saleh’s rule without giving him any guarantees in case he were to agree to step down.
• In the meantime, battles continued between President Saleh’s loyalists and oppositionists, witnessing the use of heavy artillery and shells which led to the fall of a number of dead and wounded.
• Politically, Saleh welcomed the Security Council decision which called on him to sign the Gulf initiative. However, the youth protests movement that is opposed to him announced its refusal to deal with the GCC foreign minister’s initiative that was supported by the Security Council as the basis for the achievement of an organized political transition in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia
• The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bid farewell to the heir to the throne Sultan Ben Abul-Aziz in a funerary ceremony headed by King Abdullah Ben Abdul-Aziz, with the participation of many leaders from the Arab and Islamic states. What was noticeable however was the participation of Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaah and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Salehi. In the meantime, the Saudi king issued an order to name Prince Nayef Ben Abdul-Aziz as the new heir to the throne.

Lebanese affairs

News analysis: The involvement in Syria and the threat in Tripoli and the North
According to the circulated information within numerous security and media circles, the Lebanese implication in the plan to sabotage Syria has become a key element in the events that are unfolding on the ground. According to multiple political sources, this is raising concerns in Tripoli and Akkar, where the leaders of the Future Movement, the Jamaa Islamiya and some extremist groups are carrying out intensive activities to turn the Lebanese North into the stronghold of the operations rooms responsible for the smuggling of arms and armed men into Syria. These sides have shown determination to turn the Lebanese North into a platform for the support of the Syrian opposition movements through the actions being organized on Friday.
According to the sources, the facts related to the arms smuggling are numerous and exceed the level of the reports carried by the pro-Hariri media outlets and some quasi-official information distributed by security leaders linked to Al-Hariri. What is happening is not just about smuggling and infiltration operations carried out by smugglers and arms dealers to achieve financial gains. It is an organized action led by the March 14 forces based on a direct assignment from Jeffrey Feltman and Bandar Ben Sultan. Indeed, according to reliable information acquired by the Lebanese security apparatuses, the Syrian individuals who visited many arms dealers in Beirut, the North and the Bekaa to book quantities of arms and ammunition paid millions of dollars in cash and are enjoying support from the Future Movement and the Lebanese Forces. As for covering of these cases via judicial and political interferences, they aimed at providing protection to figures involved in this operation and belonging to the March 14 forces.
On the popular level, the Future Movement is responsible for the organization of some actions and demonstrations in participation with the Jamaa Islamiya and a number of extremist groups in the North. Clearly, turning Lebanon into an arena for such an activity is the practical translation of the American order that was revealed by US Ambassador Maura Connelly.
Prominent political sources believe that the Lebanese government should deal with this reality based on its responsibility for the implementation of the Taif Accord. The March 14 forces have turned some Lebanese regions, institutions and facilities into the headquarters and passageways for the tampering with Syria’s security.
The issue is much too serious to allow the wasting of time and the turning of the back. The questions surrounding it affect the new security file which heralds serious threats that filled the Lebanese papers during the last few days, as well as the principles and rulings stipulated by the Lebanese media law. Until when will the governmental disregarding of this dangerous reality go on?

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