Iran picks the results of its resistance
By Ghaleb Kandil
Whatever the outcome of negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue, the reality that emerges from the image of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the great powers, who rushed to Geneva after information about an agreement -which could be followed by other rounds of talks-, is that 34 years of blockade and war ended in a dismal failure for the West. The strength of leadership and the Iranian people and their determination to move forward failed all the plots.
The timing of the U.S. decision to recognize the strength and power of Iran coincided with the renouncement by the United States to project their aggression against Syria. The determination and the strength of the resistance axis and its allies opposing American unilateralism succeeded in blocking American war plan. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have strongly expressed their willingness to face any attack, because they are aware that an aggression against any member of this alliance is actually aiming at dismantling the entire axis.
Thanks to the commitment of the Iranian people to their independence and freedom, to the determination and skill of its leadership, Iran has managed to overcome the imperialist blockade imposed on it for more than three decades. And that ’s not all. Tehran managed to acquire and accumulate enormous economic, technical, scientific and military capabilities, allowing it to make its entry into the club of great powers. American recognition of the Iranian force crown these achievements against the imperialist and Zionist conspiracies, funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. These developments have taken place due to the choice of resistance, established by the alliance between the Raba Syrian State and the Islamic Iran, whose foundation was laid during the historic meeting between the two great figures now deceased, President Hafez al-Assad and Ayatollah Khomeini. It would be appropriate to compare the U.S. recognition of the Iranian force to the recognition by Washington of the Popular Republic of China, in the late 70s. And as is to recognize the role and power of China has paved the way for changes in East Asia, the recognition of Iran pave the way for significant changes in the Arab Mashreq and the Gulf.
Those affected and concerned by the submission of the United States to the new realities show their true faces in Riyadh and Tel Aviv. For decades, these have built their interests on offensive and aggressive actions of the United States against Iran. Actions for which huge financial, military and intelligence capabilities were deployed in order to counter the strategy of Tehran, that has made the Palestinian cause and support the resistance in Lebanon and in Syria, the cornerstone of its regional policy. These same principles are applied in Iran’s approach to the situation in Iraq and the crisis in Yemen and Bahrain.
The future relationship between Iran and the United States will be analyzed through the prism of a regional and global Cold War. It would be illusory to believe that the negotiations will result in immediate and comprehensive compromise on all contentious issues. It is clear that there are differences in priorities. Washington wants arrangements that precede the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, while Palestine is in the heart of Iranian concerns. All previous stages of the confrontation showed the strength of the Iranian position in its support for Syria and its refusal to enter into bargaining at the expense of its constants. It is this strength that forced the United States and its allies to recognize tacitly their failure. Indices marking the decline of the West will begin to appear soon, especially as U.S. and European allies to send emissaries to Damascus.
The shape of the confrontation has changed but the foundation of the contradiction between a free and independent Iran and its allies on the one hand, the imperialist, Zionist and collaborators from other states alliance remains unchanged. This confrontation is now underpinned by new rules, which are in favor of Iran and its partners.
Mohammad Raad, Hezbollah parliamentary bloc leader
«March 14 coalition is undermining state institutions and attacking the military institution. It is not entitled to impose conditions over the Cabinet formation. They had bring down the state’s administrations with their crotchetiness and sectarian approach. They should be rational and calm and renounce hatred, act rationally and adopt the slogans they have raised. We call for a national unity Cabinet in which each side gets its fair representation. Lebanon has managed to survive thanks to the wisdom, patience and realism of the resistance. The resistance will go on in implementing its missions. This should be clear so that those we are calling on us to take part in the Cabinet do not impose preconditions on us especially at a time where they are not in a position to impose such conditions.»
Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement
«Our relationship with the resistance began in earnest 2006 and was consolidated during the July war against Israel. At that time, everyone thought that resistance would be crushed, but I was told otherwise. Statements of Sayyed Nasrallah and Shiites in general later showed the value he attaches to this position, and prove every day the importance of our relationship with Hezbollah. I do not seek benefits for me, but for the country. I think the current stability in Mount Lebanon, the South and the Bekaa is largely due to this agreement and has all the Lebanese, they support us or not. Hezbollah was forced to go to Syria because the fighting began to spread to Lebanon, Ersal Laboueh. It therefore had to push beyond the Lebanese border. It was a preventive strategy and maintained so the war on Syrian soil. The final outcome of the battle say it was right or not. The involvement of Hezbollah war in Syria made him an integral part of the solution to come. But that does not mean it will turn against its partners in Lebanon. I believe instead that the solution will come in the interest of the Lebanese entity (...) Muslim extremists quickly eliminate Christians while dictatorships will do it more slowly (...) From the beginning, I said that President Bashar will not go away and the solution of the crisis in the dialogue. We get there and my advice to Syrians are coming to dialogue as soon as possible.»
Walid Joumblatt, MP and Druze leader in Lebanon
«I am still a centrist amid this division in politics, between religious sects and regarding the war in Syria. I want to neutralize Lebanon from the repercussions of the Syrian crisis and I am trying alongside President Michel Suleiman, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Speaker Nabih Berri to fend off the dangers. I knew it would be a long war in Syria. I gathered my information from (former Syrian army chief of staff Lt. Gen.) Hikmat al-Shihabi and he told me that Syria is heading towards a war. The Syrian regime aggravated imprisonments and killings until the revolution turned into a sectarian war. The Friends of Syria disappointed the revolutionaries due to the presence of different agendas. What is required is stopping the smuggling of Takfiris into the country, uniting the financing and the military efforts of the Free Syrian Army, and sending a single delegation that represents all factions to attend the Geneva II summit. Whatever were the difficulties, not attending the Geneva II summit is a mistake because it would send a message that the regime is fighting Takfiris only. I asked Jeffrey Feltman for weapons to be given to the FSA. But I did not get a positive response. I still believe that the FSA is the solution, with the participation of Syria’s army. I urge a partial neutralization like forgetting about Hizbullah’s weaponry and in case it was up for discussion, let’s hold national dialogue sessions to tackle it. We should not suspend other issues in the country awaiting Hizbullah’s withdrawal from Syria. We should reduce the damage. There are topics that we cannot have a decision over, like the possession of weapons and getting involved in the Syrian war on both sides of the conflict. Let us leave these issues aside and deal with daily matters that concerns citizens. It is not in my powers, nor in Saad Hariri’s powers to withdraw Hizbullah’s fighters from Syria. Hizbullah is a military and political reality. Let’s forget about this issue. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has his own facts and I have my own political view. He is not a foreigner in the country but he is an extension of Iranian politics (...)I have informed Suleiman that I will not take part in a de facto cabinet because it is not respect the National Pact. I support a consensual formula.»
Fouad Siniora, Head of Future bloc and former Prime minister
«The embrace of the Lebanese people is the real protection for the Hezbollah. The party’s interference in Syria has opened the door for the storm to sweep Lebanon. However, we continue to extend our hand to Nabih Berry and all our partners in the country. Hezbollah’ leaders expected to frighten us with their statements, but we will not give in because there are main principles which we will not abandon. We have been holding dialogue with this partner, and we have agreed on certain issues but it didn’t abide by the agreements.»
• The nowlebanon site, close to March-14 coalition, reports that Lebanese former Prime Minister Saad Hariri will not return anytime soon to Beirut, even if desired, since the security risks that led him to leave Lebanon are still present.
• The Kuwaiti daily al-Rai reported that the leader of the Socialist Progressive Party Walid Jumblatt, received the head of Hezbollah security, Wafic Safa, at his home in Clemenceau. Jumblatt had sent his greetings to the party secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, through Mr. Safa. The SPP leader also had "expressed its comfort after the visit" and "in view of the path followed by the relations between the two parties," the newspaper said.
• The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said in his weekly report, that more than 52,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in October. The number of Syrian refugees has exceeded 812,000, of which over 725,000 are registered with UNHCR and 87000 will soon make their registration.
• A Syrian lawmaker kidnapped by opposition jihadist fighters earlier this year was executed last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday. A parliamentary source in Damascus, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Mujhem al-Sahu from Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria had been executed, without specifying who was responsible. The source said 50-year-old Sahu was killed in Deir al-Zor but gave no additional details. Last month, the Observatory reported that another Syrian lawmaker, Mohanna Faisal al-Fayyad, a Sunni, had been kidnapped by Islamist and jihadist opposition fighters. The monitoring group said Ahrar al-Sham rebel fighters and jihadists from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islaic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) abducted Fayyad on October 27. He was kidnapped after two days of clashes between members of his tribe, which supports the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and rebel groups.
As Safir (Lebanese daily, Arab nationalist)
(November 8, 2013)
After rejecting any sectarian speech and advocated Islamic unity, Hassan Nasrallah called upon to face the great danger for the resistance popular basis, the car bombs. He pointed out another challenge facing resistance now that strengthen its capacity to respond to the Israeli danger. Recalling the victory of the resistance in July 2006, when the whole world was leagued against resistance by focusing on his defeat, Sayyed Nasrallah considered that Hezbollah has become a major regional power.
Referring to the situation in Syria, he said that "after the failure of the plan to hit the resistance in Lebanon and to target Iran, they decided to plot against Syria. This goes beyond reform and change. It is a conspiracy to bring down the regime and its policy choices that led him to stand with the resistance in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. "That’s why we stood alongside the regime," he said.
"I am able to say, he has continued, that we beat most of the plans that were hatched against Syria. Syria will recover, and we will have at the end a political solution, especially as the axis of the war against Syria came up against a dead end. We can even say that we have committed in the last line that will lead us to a new historic and strategic victory."
Sayyed Nasrallah also pointed out that the involvement of Hezbollah in Syria was more than necessary to avoid Iraqisation of Lebanon
As Safir (November 8, 2013)
Mohammad Ballout, Paris
There is a confrontation between the CIA and the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The differences between the United States and Saudi Arabia on Syria continually grow. Syrian Informed sources say that the U.S. secretary of state John Kerry refused to meet Bandar bin Sultan during his visit to Riyadh. U.S. intelligence are indeed angered by the strategy Bandar now applies in Syria, with a tendency to bring the jihadist groups in one part military while strengthening their position within the staff of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
These sources have mentioned a U.S. anger over statements Bandar bin Sultan, who has threatened to stop security cooperation with U.S. intelligence after President Barack Obama had renounced military strikes against Damascus. U.S. security affected by the coordination of military aid to the Syrian opposition are unleashed against the Saudi prince and qualify it as a "stupid and dangerous" strategy in Syria insofar as it undermines U.S. interests by encouraging jihadist groups, which are, according to the U.S. Secret Service, an extension of Al- Qaeda, particularly with respect to Al-Nosra Front.
According to U.S. sources who attended the meeting in Geneva, Bandar bin Sultan is now a stumbling block for the strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. A senior U.S. security official in Paris has also been quoted by Syrian opposition as saying that the Syrian issue will now be entrusted exclusively to King Abdullah and Prince Saud al-Faisal.
An Nahar (Lebanese daily close to March-14 coalition)
Abdel Karim Abou Nasr (November 8, 2013)
According to the confidences of a prominent Western official to Paris, people close to the Syrian regime met discreetly U.S. diplomats in Europe, and have made an offer of Syrian President: to establish a secret channel of contact between Bashar al-Assad and the Administration of President Barack Obama to reach an agreement for the Syrian president to remain in power. However, U.S. diplomats have categorically rejected this proposal.
Al Akhbar (Lebanese Daily close to the Lebanese Resistance)
Radwan Mortada (November 9, 2013)
The tug of war between the Islamic militant leaders in Syria reached crisis levels as armed clashes between the“brothers in jihad” raged, despite fatwas prohibiting infighting and efforts by al-Qaeda to unite the factions.
No two informed observers can disagree that Islamic jihadi groups now spearhead the armed rebellion against the Syrian regime. Their experience in organization and combat gave them an edge over other armed opposition factions, giving their project to establish their brand of an Islamic state a real chance, in contrast to the project of other scattered opposition groups to establish a “civil state.”
No two observers can disagree, either, that the quarrel between al-Qaeda commanders over seniority and leadership, since at least April 2013, has benefited the regime. Although this has become apparent in the battlefield, lust for power and leadership has dizzied mediators seeking to reconcile the emir of al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, and the emir of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and also the latter with the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Attempts by mediators – many of whom reside in Lebanon – to pull the dispute out of the media failed, with the squabble taking the form of audio recordings and counter recordings. To al-Nusra’s credit, it has so far not reacted, even after ISIS’ fighters seized outposts and weapons caches belonging to the former in Aleppo and Raqqa, not to mention an oil well that ISIS also wrested from al-Nusra’s hands in Deir al-Zour, to avoid a confrontation.
According to Islamist sources, however, mediators have been able to broker a temporary truce, following which quarrels in the media have somewhat subsided. According to the same sources, some of the meetings held by representatives from both sides took place in Lebanon.
In parallel, field commanders in both groups strove to put an end to the dispute over “seniority” among the rank and file, especially after this translated into a sharp split between the Islamic militants, who each accused the other faction’s emir of having committed “the sin of disobeying the real emir.” The first argues that Golani disobeyed his chief Baghdadi when he did not agree to merge al-Nusra with the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) under ISIS. The second argues that it was Baghdadi who was disobedient, when he rejected Zawahiri’s orders to cancel the merger and restore the old groups.
While attempts to keep the dispute among the militants in check partially succeeded, at least on the battlefield, the dispute rages on in the media. Perhaps the sharpest example was a letter titled “From a mujahid to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri.”
The sender begins his letter by apologizing for addressing the emir publicly, having run out of other options to deliver his message. The sender, who signed the letter with the name “Abu Bakr al-Dimashqi,” did not name any one particular side, but alluded to the practices perpetrated in the areas controlled by ISIS militants. The letter’s author wrote about what he called the “harshness and intimidation of the de facto rulers, who are alienating many Muslims,” citing their all-too-readiness to carry out executions and corporal punishments, sometimes at random.
In the same vein, others have debated and questioned whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was eligible to be an imam, and spoke about “ISIS’ deviation from the correct path in light of its practices,” accusing the group of “precipitating the emergence of the sahwa [awakening] groups as a result of its actions,” in reference to the US-funded anti-al Qaeda tribal militias in Iraq.
Baghdadi’s supporters have also been censured for pledging allegiance to an unknown man, as, according to many jihadis, one Sharia-established rule for giving allegiance is that the imam must be well known. Proceeding from this, ISIS’ opponents are questioning Baghdadi’s legitimacy. In response, ISIS issued a brief biography of the “Emir of the Faithful al-Baghdadi,” containing detail abouts his “feats and religious knowledge” to silence skeptics.
ISIS’ supporters, using hadiths, also responded to the accusations against them and defended Baghdadi’s legitimacy and the lawfulness of his appointment, praising his efforts to reestablish the Islamic caliphate. They then justified the brutality of their group by invoking what they termed “the need for a powerful leader that can handle worldly and religious affairs, and subjugate his foes.”
One ISIS supporter argued, “Bin Laden was the leader of one jihadi group among 23 in Afghanistan, and did not gain followers until his actions changed the course of history.” Furthermore, books by an Abi Hammam al-Athari, a jihadi cleric, were published on jihadi forums, urging Islamic militants to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi.
Meanwhile, jihadis on Twitter belonging to both ISIS and al-Nusra have been engaging in fierce arguments, exchanging accusations and questioning each other’s legitimacy. Some supporters of ISIS would even mock operations carried out by al-Nusra, boasting instead of “superior attacks” carried out by ISIS.
An audio recording of Saudi cleric Majid al-Majid, emir of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in the Levant, circulated on jihadi forums, in which Majid tackled the disputes among Islamic brigades in Syria. He called for placing affiliation to the Islamic nation ahead of partisan affiliation, saying that division only benefits the enemies.
Majid dedicated the rest of his message for Lebanese affairs. “Hezbollah and its interests in Lebanon are legitimate targets for us and the rebels,” he said, adding, “The rockets that hit you in the Bekaa, Hermel, and Dahiyeh were only skirmishes.”
The Saudi then addressed other figures, including politicians, calling on them to intervene to withdraw Hezbollah’s fighters from Syria to spare Lebanon from war, and also addressed what he called “Christian gatherings on Hezbollah’s side,” calling on them to distance themselves from the Lebanese resistance group to protect Christian lives.
Majid also singled out the head of Lebanese General Security Abbas Ibrahim, who he said was “working day and night to harass, kill, and detain Sunnis in Lebanon.” He called on Sunni soldiers to leave the Lebanese army since its leadership, he claimed, now answered to Iran.
Al Akhbar (November 7, 2013)
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas is undergoing a major internal review in light of dramatic events witnessed in the Middle East, which could very well lead to its return to the Resistance camp once again. The process will likely take some time to complete and will be comprehensive in scope, covering all aspects of the movement’s ideology and politics.
The Syrian crisis, the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the movement’s position in relation to both the Resistance and the so-called “moderate Arab” camps, will be at the heart of Hamas’ discussions. The group is reluctant to call this process a “review,” preferring to say that the changes that have taken place in the region require a reconsideration of how exactly to proceed.
Hamas is not looking to play a central role as it once did in the Resistance front, for its leadership knows well that such a position cannot easily be regained, nor can it play such a role in the Brotherhood and its alliance on the other side. It is likely that the movement will be looking for a place between the two camps that will give it a greater margin of maneuverability, as well as the ability to maintain contacts with all the parties.
Nevertheless, the Islamist movement is very much worried about the role of Saudi Arabia, which Hamas believes has implicated itself in an alliance with the United States, the Israelis, and an assortment of Salafi groups that seek to topple the regime in Syria, lay siege to Iran, and put an end to the Resistance movements in the region, including Gaza.
Hamas believes that this Saudi-led alliance is proceeding along these lines: – Backing the anti-Brotherhood government in Egypt, with the possibility of following it up with a blow to Hamas in Gaza. – Waging a war without limits to topple the regime in Damascus. – Isolating Hezbollah in Lebanon, while preparing to wage a war against it with the help of all the Resistance movement’s local opponents. – Continuing in its incitement campaign against Iran, while encouraging the West to engage in a direct confrontation with the Islamic Republic. – Wiping out the Muslim Brotherhood and their spheres of influence throughout the Arab world, while reinforcing the growing role of the Saudi-aligned Salafi movement in the region.
In light of this, Hamas could very well find an important role to play in helping to organize those forces opposed to the Saudi project, such as mediating between Turkey and Qatar, on one side, and Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria, on the other, to bring them closer to one another.
The Islamist movement has already managed to mend fences with Iran, which has resumed its financial and military aid to Hamas in Gaza, hoping to build on its renewed contacts with Tehran to lay the groundwork for a reconciliation between the Islamic Republic and Turkey and Qatar. Meanwhile, Hamas is hoping that the Iranians will clear any obstacles in the way of the party’s return to the Resistance front.
Al Akhbar (November 6, 2013)
While Lebanon’s politicians are engrossed in fighting over the shape of the next government, the cabinet’s chief administrator and secretary general of the Council of Ministers, Suhail Bawji, is running the show.
As the various institutions of the Lebanese state expire, and are banished to months of either transition or extension, it’s increasingly unclear who exactly is running the various branches of the government.
In the case of the now-resigned Najib Mikati cabinet – which currently serves as acting government until Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam forms a new one – it is the perennial Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Suhail Bawji (appointed to the position by Rafik Hariri in 2000) who calls the shots.
He’s not overly concerned about the debate underway regarding the number of ministers each party will get in the next government, for today he rules in the name of the “public interest,” giving himself the power to issue decisions that once required the approval of a full cabinet session, in addition to the presence of the prime minister and the president.
Despite the end of his term and the questionable legality of his appointment, the man has persevered in his position for 13 years, regardless of which way the political winds were blowing. Today, he takes full advantage of the government vacuum to exercise power beyond his job description, under the guise of “exceptional approval” for urgent matters.
But what is considered urgent and requires immediate attention is subjected to Bawji’s own personal interpretation, which is remarkably close to the priorities of his political patrons in the Future Movement. He gets to decide, for example, which of the ministers’ official travel expenses can be paid based on his assessment of the importance the work involved.
In one recent case, Bawji took it upon himself to approve a proposal of twinning the municipalities of Beirut and the city of Miami in Florida, even though it was raised before the Foreign Ministry, which decided to postpone any decision on it until a new government was formed, as there was nothing pressing about the matter.
Although some ministers willingly admit that they have a problem with some of the former judge’s legal interpretations, Prime Minister Mikati praises his juridical abilities and insists that he is trustworthy “in the full meaning of the word.”
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