Weekly information and analysis bulletin specialized in Arab Middle Eastern affairs prepared by neworientnews.com
Editor in chief Wassim Raad
New Orient Center for Strategic policies
An American plan to destabilize the region, from Irak to Lebanon, including Syria and Jordan
By Ghaleb Kandil
It is no exaggerating to say that the United States Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly, gave the kickoff of the new American plan to spread chaos and create an atmosphere of confrontation that lead to power emptiness in the country.
Coordinated movements of Takfirists extremists groups, the provocative speeches exacerbating political tensions and the media campaigns against Hezbollah, are part of the American plan to encourage escalation on the ground, with the active complicity of the Future Movement and medias in which delegates from U.S. intelligence office communication., based in Dubai, work. The past two years, all the efforts of the United States to provoke sectarian strife had failed.
One might ask about the relationship between Sheikhs Ahmad al-Asir, Dai al-Islam al-Chabal, and the United States. The answer is clear: this relationship is maintained through Gulf states financial aid (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Lebanon Hariri clan) to these two extremists sheiks that are directly related to the Americans.
The U.S. plan is a blow to one of the pillars of the stability of Lebanon, represented by the formula of power developed since the formation of Najib Mikati government.
Washington’s action aims to link the explosive region, including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. Its aim is to improve the conditions for negotiations, in order to strengthen the influence of its allies in the region. Especially that this influence had seriously declined after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the Israeli defeat in Lebanon and Palestine.
In this context, Maura Connelly asked President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, to begin preparations for the parliamentary elections in June according to 1960 law. Because the replacement of this law would lead to a further decline of the influence of Washington and its Lebanese and regional auxiliary, including centrists, whose ties with the West are no longer a secret. The request submitted by Ms. Connelly has created an electrified climate within the Lebanese government after MM. Sleiman, Mikati and Charbel had yielded to U.S “wishes”, reflecting a change in the tactics of the United States who have decided to turn the page on the stability and opt for escalation in the region, from Iraq to Lebanon, including Syria and Jordan.
The movement initiated by the Gulf Cooperation Council to put pressure on Lebanon and threaten to deport thousands of Lebanese working in these states is an illustration of the American plan. As fierce smear campaign launched against Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, and information on his dismissal and two Hezbollah ministers. As well as Leaks on the the information about the intention of President Sleiman to ask ministers close to him to resign. All these measures, if implemented, would bring a blow to political stability.
These data provide evidence for the existence of a destabilization U.S. plan in order to expand the Syrian battlefield to Lebanon, in order to put on the table the issue of the Resistance armaments. The ultimate goal is, of course, to guarantee the security of Israel by weakening the Resistance.
Michel Sleiman, president of the Lebanese Republic
«The countries of the region are causing riots to have elections, and we want to cause problems for to postpone them? The situation is not dangerous, but it is worrying. Elections have a 95% chance to stand on the basis of a law other than that of 1960. If there is no election and there is an extension of the Parliament mandate, the security risk is high. The Delegation of the Gulf Cooperation Council who visited the presidential palace did not issued an ultimatum. Why do we want to bring the conflict Syria to us?»
Adnane Mansour, Lebanese Foreign Affairs minister
«All resolutions of the Arab League on Syria remained without effect, and the violence in the country has continued to escalate, with all the effects it had on Lebanon. Where is the problem when I demanded the return of Syria to the Arab League that it is possible to talk with her and find together the political solution? I can keep my distance vis-à-vis what is happening in the neighboring country, but not vis-à-vis the dangers that Lebanon may incur. What law of the Arab League or the UN authorizes state to intervene, especially military, in the affairs of each others? Can we protect Lebanon against the effects of what could happen in this case? My positions take into consideration the interests of Lebanon. When I see that interest is in danger, I do not hesitate to say it.»
Fouad Siniora, Lebanese former Prime minister
«The positions of Mr Mansour is in total contradiction with the Constitution. We condemn this fact since a Foreign Minister, representing the government, is not allowed to express his personal views in an Arab and international forums. Our relations with the Arab countries are difficult because of the positions taken by some Lebanese parties.»
Michel Aoun, Leader of the Free Patriotic Movement
«The arms of the resistance exist to defend the southern border. These are weapons of defense which do not attack Israel, but defend Lebanon if Israel attacks our territory. We are not in favor of participation in the fighting in Syria but there are Syrian villages inhabited by Lebanese near the borders, and these villages are under attack. They have the right to defend themselves.»
Oussama Saad, Former Lebanese MP
«The movement of Shiekh Ahmad al-Asir and similar phenomena are controlled by the Gulf states who finance them. The United States implement constructive chaos theory and try to cause discord between Sunnis and Shiites to spread chaos and civil wars in the region as part of its war against the resistance movement.»
Maura Connelly, American Ambassador to Lebanese
«As one of the oldest democracies in the region, Lebanon has, in our opinion, to comply with Constitution schedule to organize elections. Nothing prevents the organization of elections in time in the absence of an agreement in the near future on a new electoral law.»
Alexander Zasypkin , Russian Ambassador to Lebanon
«The elections in Lebanon must be arranged with the agreement of all the Lebanese parties and not the result of foreign directives. Foreign interference in Lebanese affairs is unacceptable. Russia supports the initiatives taken by the authorities and the Lebanese army to preserve the stability of the country. Our position is clear. We do not interfere in the affairs of Lebanon and we want others to adopt the same policy. All details relating to elections are internal Lebanese affairs.»
Serguei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Affairs minister
«President Bashar al-Assad will not leave power and we have no intention of asking. It is not for us to decide who should lead Syria. It is the Syrians to decide. We are opposed to any pre-condition to stop the violence and begin dialogue because we believe that the number one priority is to save lives.»
Ø According to As-Safir daily, “UNIFIL has justified the violation by Israel of Lebanese territories in Wazzani. A statement issued by UN forces indicates that the Israeli army, which began March 4 to dig a road south of the blue line in the region Wazzani, had informed UNIFIL in advance of the work it plans to undertake. The statement said that UNIFIL has shared this information with the Lebanese armed forces. “
As Safir (Lebanese daily, close to the majority, March 8, 2013)
The election date has raised in recent days a strong interest from Western diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador, Maura Connelly, his British counterpart, Tom Fletcher, the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, European Commissioner to Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle, and the Ambassador of the European Union to Lebanon, Angelina Eichhorst. The only practical application of the appeal of the West to organize the elections as scheduled in accordance with the 1960 Act, has been the signature by the President and Prime Minister of the decree calling the electoral college.
Some believe that the West wants to see the establishment of an Assembly where a “centrist bloc” will be able to tip the balance. According to government sources, this block will consist of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, MP Walid Jumblatt, Elias Skaff and others. The objective would be to establish a balance in the Chamber.
A Western diplomat said that the crisis in Lebanon does not find its origins in the electoral dispute, but in the aftermath of the conflict in Syria on Lebanon. Regarding the postponement of the elections, another European diplomat said that if it happens, maintaining Najib Mikati government would be better than a vacuum.
An Nahar (Lebanese Daily, close to march-14 coalition)
Rosanna Bou Mouncef (March 8, 2013)
Political sources close to March 14 coalition find that the last visit of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General in Lebanon marks a shift in the politics of the Gulf states towards the Lebanon. Gulf countries want Lebanon to respect the dissociation policy by preventing Hezbollah from getting involved in Syria. The message of the GCC aims to bring the party to the following choice: either join the government or participate in the Syrian war. If the situation does not change in Lebanon, the Gulf countries will not hesitate to evoke the question of the Lebanese working in the peninsula.
Al Akhbar (Lebanese daily, close to the majority, March 7, 2013)
In Lebanon’s northeastern Wadi Khaled, one finds what could be called the extension of al-Nosra Front inside March 14. Under the pretext of toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Phalanges’ homebase of Bikfaya and the Lebanese Forces’ homebase of Maarab are both creating links with extremists.
It begins in Roumieh prison. Reports indicate that the prison has become a factory of sorts for manufacturing new types of Islamist groups.
The latest such incident occurred when Bilal A.J.K., from the village of Rajm Issa and imprisoned for his affiliations with Fatah al-Islam, met with a Libyan Muslim Brotherhood supporter going by the name of Bashti. Upon leaving prison, Bilal formed the first Libyan-type Brotherhood group in Wadi Khaled under the directions of Bashti.
The group communicates with al-Qaeda using the Thuraya satellite phone network. It recruited around 30 members throughout the villages of Rajm Issa, Rajm Hussein, and Rajm Khalaf. The most prominent members are F.S., Rabih B., and Khaled A.J.
Since its inception several months ago, the group has been busy training and preparing, in addition to participating in fighting in Tal Kalakh and al-Qasir in Syria. Its operations in the Homs countryside are coordinated by Khaled A.J., a former fighter in Baba Amro who has links with both former Colonel Amid Hammoud, commander of al-Ansar group, and the Salafi Omar M., AKA Omar Ajaj.
Khaled’s mission focuses on sending fighters to al-Qasir and Tal Kalakh to conduct military operations and providing them with shelter at bases in Wadi Khaled.
Another group in the region is led by a Lebanese MP. Mustafa A.H. from Knayseh, who holds Lebanese nationality, is the commander, but his brother carries Syrian nationality and is the mayor of the Syrian village of Bouit.
The latter was in charge of smuggling defecting Syrian army soldiers and officers into Wadi Khaled. He was recently arrested by Syrian authorities once they uncovered his activities.
The third group in Wadi Khaled is a branch of al-Ansar, which presents itself as the “military wing” of the Future Movement and is led by Colonel Hammoud. The group is under the command of Ahmed A.D.S. from the town of Hnaider, assisted by Haitham R.S. from Rajm Hussein.
Its base is located in the Wadi Sarhan region between Rajm Khalaf in Lebanon and Bouit in Syria, and serves as a training camp for the Free Syrian Army.
For a while, the groups were under the supervision of Colonel Abdullah al-Khatbi, a Syrian army defector. He later had to relocate to Tripoli due to security reasons, where he now lives in an apartment rented by Hammoud in the annexed area of the city.
To disguise his movement between Tripoli and Wadi Khaled, Khatbi has used a car with blue license plates belonging to a Lebanese MP. He is the brother-in-law of the Future Movement official A.M., AKA Broken Amer, who hosted him after he fled Syria.
The Lebanese Forces and the Phalanges
Mahmoud N. is the commander of a group linked to the Lebanese Forces in Wadi Khaled. He was active logistically within the Salafi offensive under the pretext of “solidarity” with the Syrian opposition in its attempt to topple Assad.
The group consists of about 40 men and has a clandestine office at Mahmoud’s own home in al-Maslabiyeh. According to people close to his circles, he is known to have an old relationship with the US Embassy in Beirut and is in regular communication with Maarab’s security chief.
Another group in the area is linked to the Phalanges, acting in support of the Syrian opposition and led by a Phalangist regional official called Mohammed I. He is linked to MP Sami Gemayel and is assisted by his brother Ahmed. The Phalanges have around 80 individuals active in Wadi Khaled.
The mission undertaken by the Lebanese Forces and the Phalanges is related to monitoring the borders, collecting information on Syrian army deployments, and facilitating the work of the FSA.
It should be noted that arms smuggling routes in the region pass through the Nsoub crossing in Mount Akroum-Bouit and the Shabieh crossing in al-Hisheh. The smugglers only need to cross the river to arrive at the Homs highway.
Al Akhbar (March 7, 2013)
It is no coincidence that Algeria and Iraq were the only two countries at the 6 March 2013 Arab League meeting in Cairo that objected to the proposal to arm the Syrian opposition.
Their opposition did not merely reflect their overall political stance, or their ties with the resistance axis in the region. They also happen to be the only two Arab states that are capable – thanks to their own oil and gas resources – of refusing to do the bidding of Gulf oil monarchies.
Neither is it a coincidence that a bevy of Lebanese political groups mobilized yesterday to attack Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Adnan Mansour over his stance on Syria.
With the brazenness of a bully, the Gulf states yesterday threatened Lebanon with economic and security consequences if it does not adhere to its policy of “dissociation” from the crisis in Syria.
The implied economic threat is clear. They are hinting that they will expel Lebanese workers from their countries if stances are taken in Lebanon that oppose their policies in Syria.
Less clear is the security threat. Are they promising to send us theirmujahideen to fight for freedom as defined by al-Nusra Front? Or will they open a Beirut franchise of their gun-running operation in Syria?
What Mansour actually did in Cairo was to adhere genuinely to the dissociation policy. The only stance the minister took was an ethical one in favor of a peaceful solution in Syria, and of Damascus retaking its seat at the Arab League so that dialogue can begin in Cairo.
The Gulf regimes, committed to implementing US Secretary of State John Kerry’s agenda of more blood and destruction in Syria, disapproved of Mansour’s stance. For them, “dissociation” means turning a blind eye to an influx of arms intended to destroy an Arab country.
Mansour’s sin was to call for peace at a time when every other country is pushing for war. His greater sin was to flout his obligation of submission and obedience to the ordained rulers of the oil monarchies.
Al Akhbar (March 7, 2013)
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour shot back at criticisms of his recent stances on Syria Thursday, accusing unnamed Arab states of “orchestrating noisy reactions” against the Lebanese government “which they have opposed since day one.”
“Lebanon will maintain a neutral stance on Syria, but when Lebanon is affected then of course we have to put Lebanon’s interests first,” said Mansour at a press conference held upon his return from Cairo at the Rafik Hariri airport.
“A 15 year civil war is enough for us. We will not have more war in our country…I cannot be neutral about the dangers that might happen to my country” he added referring to an Arab League decision to allow members to arm Syrian rebels. Mansour warned that Lebanon would not grant passageway to the transfer of arms.
“I don’t see what the problem is with calling for Syria’s return to the lap of the Arab League…the verbal attacks against me weren’t the first and they won’t be the last.”
Mansour, a member of the pro-Damascus Amal movement, called on the Arab League Wednesday to reinstate Syria’s membership, deeming the move “essential for a political solution”, and sparking uproar from Lebanon’s opposition and some heads of state.
The remarks appeared to contradict Prime Minister Najib Mikati a policy of “dissociation” from the conflict in Lebanon’s dominant neighbor. Mikati has also promise that his country would respect any League decisions about Syria.
“It was not the decisions of the Arab League that drowned Syria in a sea of blood. Bashar Assad is the one who killed his people and drowned Syria in a sea of blood,” Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani said in response to Mansour’s remarks.
“The Syrian regime has found someone to speak on its behalf at the Arab League,” said Saudi-backed former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
“Lebanon’s foreign minister has executed this dark mandate, which is incompatible with the fundamental basis of Arab solidarity, and erases all claims related to the policy of disassociation.”
Syria’s two year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has claimed nearly 70,000 lives, and has raised the specter of spilling over into neighboring states, namely Lebanon.
Although the smallest of the neighboring states, Lebanon hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees at 332,297 (March 5, 2013 UNHCR figure) with Jordan trailing closely behind at 324,543.
Fears of a crisis spillover into Lebanon have been widespread, and tens of thousands of ammunition rounds have been seized in the country while en route to Syria.
“Based on information that we have, there are reasons to believe that there is a flow of arms both ways – from Lebanon into Syria and from Syria into Lebanon,” Terje Roed-Larsen UN special envoy to the Middle East said to reporters in May last year.
Ad Diyar (Lebanese Daily close to March 8 coalition)
(March 6, 2013)
Security services learned that ten young supporters of Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir are wearing explosive belts in processions and demonstrations organized by the cleric in different regions of the country, particularly in the city of Sidon. This type of behavior is new and does not occur at events organized by al-Asir in the past. But recently, the imam of the mosque Bilal bin Rabah have taken this decision to “die a martyr” if the police came to arrest him.
France-Presse Agency (March 9, 2013)
A Saudi court on Saturday dissolved a human rights group and handed down heavy jail terms to two of its members for offenses that included sedition and giving inaccurate information to foreign media.
Mohammed Fahd al-Qahtani and Abdullah Hamad are founding members of the banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, known as ACPRA, that documents human rights abuses and has called for a constitutional monarchy and elections.
Qahtani was sentenced to 10 years. Hamad was told he must complete the remaining six years of a previous jail term for his political activities, serve an additional five years and comply with an 11-year travel ban when he leaves jail. They have 30 days to appeal.
The judge at the criminal court in Riyadh, in delivering his verdict ordered “the dissolution of the Saudi Association of Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), for failing to obtain authorization, and the seizure of its assets.”
Qahtani and Hamad reacted calmly to the verdict, saying they planned to continue their “peaceful struggle.”
Riyadh, Washington’s main Gulf ally, does not allow protests, political parties and trade unions. Most power is wielded by top members of the ruling family and senior clerics of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam.
Last year, ACPRA issued a statement demanding that King Abdullah fire his heir and interior minister, Crown Prince Nayef, who they held responsible for rights abuses. Nayef died shortly afterwards.
Unlike in most previous cases, the trial was opened to the press and public, in what Saudi activists described as a step forward for rights even as they decried the verdict.
Supporters of the two men shouted out that the trial was politically motivated after the judge handed down the sentences, and a line of security officers armed with truncheons cleared the courtroom.
On Thursday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said that activists, whom he did not name, had tried to stir up protests in the world’s top oil exporting country by spreading “false information” on social media.
ACPRA claims to have created a file listing “hundreds of human rights violations over the past two years,” and has helped victims seeking justice.
It says the kingdom is holding around 30,000 political prisoners.
La Libre Belbique (Belgian Daily, March 8, 2013)
Hundreds of young Europeans, including dozens of Flemish, fight in Syria alongside radical Muslims, said the president of the European agency Eurojust, Michèle Coninsx. In an interview with Dutch radio VRT, Ms. Coninsx expressed concern about the growing number of young people making the trip between Europe and Syria. According to Eurojust to coordinate the activities of national judicial authorities, this trend draws concern because young people come into contact with radical movements often linked to Al-Qaeda and pose a danger to their return to Europe