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Category: Middle East (page 6 of 19)

News from the Middle East and around the Mediterranean.

Lebanese Canadian Bank Hezbollah Connection

The Obama administration is accusing the Lebanese Canadian Bank of laundering money for the terrorist group Hezbollah. It seems like the bank is doing business with an international Cocaine ring which is tied to the Shiite militant group. Acting as a central hub, the bank based in Beirut, Lebanon, is charged with laundering and transferring large sums of money globally helping the organization stay afloat in these hard financial times.

One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, “They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.” On Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Virginia announced the indictment of the man at the center of the Lebanese Canadian Bank case, charging that he had trafficked drugs and laundered money not only for Colombian cartels, but also for the murderous Mexican gang Los Zetas.

Hezbollah has traditionally received over 200 Million Dollars annually from its bosom buddies, Iran and Syria. These days with Iran having its neck rung by financial sanctions and Syria’s delicate murderous, screwed up dictator – busy butchering his own people (Assad), times are hard. So what does a terror group in need of fast cash do? Say hello to my little friend – its time for the Colombian connection to kick in! The Hezbollah is now into the South American cocaine trade. Is that great or what?

500 Lashes To Australian in Saudi Arabia


Australia has appealed for the leniency of Saudi Arabia’s court system after a citizen of the country was sentenced to 500 lashes and one-year imprisonment. Mason Almaribe was found guilty of committing blasphemy last month while on pilgrimage in Medina. Although the court is adamant of is guilt, it is unclear of what he actually said or did to get himself arrested in the country.

Australian ambassadors have urged Saudi authorities to be lenient with Almaribe. His family has proclaimed that he has injuries on his back and he also has diabetes. Usama Al-Nugali, the spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry, has said that the Saudi Arabian court system has an appeals process that he can resort to in the matter.

Consulate officials have been in contact with Almaribe since the arrest in November and were with him during the verdict reading. Australian officials have said that they were informed of his charges. Almaribe was convicted of blasphemy and “making comments insulting the prophet Mohammed’s relatives” according to CNN.

The original sentence was for two years of imprisonment, however, this has been cut down to one year. It is not known when and where the lashings will take place. Blasphemy can be punishable by death in Saudi Arabia under Muslim law. Saudi Arabia is known for their lashings. Usually, lashings do not take place all at once. For men, lashings will usually take part every week. This can be broken up into 50 or so lashings. For women, lashings are usually broken up into sets of 20-30.

A doctor is administered before the lashings to make sure that the prisoner is fit to be lashed. The doctor usually does not look over the wounds after the lashing. The most dangerous part of the lashings could come from infections if the skin is broken during the punishment.

Pakistan Will Not Be Attending Afghani Conference

Pakistan has vowed not to attend an upcoming conference geared at starting a reconciliation in Afghanistan. The Afghani president has asked the country to reconsider, but the Pakistani cabinet has unanimously voted against the attendance. The conference is to be held in Bonn, Germany. Pakistan has refused to go because of the kill of two-dozen NATO troops last week.

The Afghani president has urged Pakistan to reconsider, citing that the killing is even more reason for the region to start a reconciliation. Pakistan has been a very valuable land supply for the United States armed forces bringing equipment into the country for their troops. Pakistan is known to have accused Afghanistan of harboring Al Quaeda forces while Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of aiding forces against their military.

The US Secretary Of State, French Foreign Minister, British Foreign Secretary and the Russian Foreign Minister are among 65 heads of international organizations that are expected to participate in the conference. Although Pakistan will not be attending the conference, they have stated their support peace in the region. They also support the importance of a Afghanistan establishing peace in their own country.

The Pakistani cabinet has closed all of their supply lines to the region and has requested that the United states vacate the air base of Shamsi. The country would like to maintain their relationship with the country, but they ask for mutual respect for Pakistani sovereignty. The Pakistani cabinet has also been reviewing their cooperation with the ISAF, NATO and the United States.

General James Mattis has ordered that Brig. Gen. Stephen Clarke lead the investigation into the NATO killings. More than a thousand people are expected to attend the conference in Bonn, Germany. German political officials are said to be meeting with Afgan officials Thursday and Friday before the conference starts.

Iranian Protesters Break into UK Embassy In Tehran

The ransacked offices of the UK embassy in Tehran are said to be the work of militant students in the area. The embassy’s smashed windows and a burning British flag have become the picture of today’s newspapers. This move has come directly after the UK has vowed to endorse further sanctions to Iran.

In a press release, the UK’s Foreign Offices have said to be “outraged” by the backlash. Iranian offices have also released a statement of regret. The UK Foreign office has also advised all Britons in Iran to stay indoors and to keep a very low profile while in the country.

Onlookers have said that they heard “death To England” being chanted as the students rioted against police. One protester has been reported as waving a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II while turning over desktops and rummaging through the files of the embassy.

Pictures of the event showed embassy paperwork set aflame while a car inside the compound was also on fire. Embassy staff is said to have escaped through the backdoor of the facility. Tear gas was fired as the security forces tried to get a handle on the situation.

The US has condemned the attack and support the UK as it tries to pick up the pieces of their embassy. France and Russia have also expressed their concern and stand by the UK.

This has all been sparked by the theory of Iran’s nuclear development program as the UK has imposed monetary sanctions on the banks of Iran. They have accused the banks of funding the nuclear program. Iran has denied these claims and insists that their nuclear program is solely for energy purposes for their people.

On Sunday, the Iranian parliament voted by a vast majority to reduce their relations with the UK.

Iran Calls Nuclear Sanctions “Vain”


The US and Canada have announced that new measures will be taken to target Iran’s nuclear program. A senior Iranian political official has said that the sanctions imposed on the Iranian nuclear program would be “in vain” despite Western authority claiming the sanctions would unite the Iranian people. Russia has come to Iran’s defense calling the sanctions “against international law.”

Ramin Mehmanparast of the Iranian Foreign Ministry has told reporters in Tehran that the attempts of the west will simply unite the Iranian people to support their nuclear program. Although Iran has firmly denied the claims that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons, a UN report published just two weeks ago has the strongest evidence leading against the claims.

Although Tehran is insisting that the nuclear program is a civilian endeavor, a UN nuclear watchdog group has said that the tests Iran is performing are congruent with that of the development of a nuclear weapon. With China and Russia opposed to the sanctions, Iran was not referred to the UN Security Council. Abdolhossein Bayat, Iran’s deputy oil minister, has said that if the sactions are implemented, Iran will not stop exporting their petrochemical to the European Unions.

The UK announced on Monday that they were cutting all ties with Iran’s banks. Canada has said that they are banning the export of petrochemical, gas and oil. Hilary Clinton, US Secretary Of State, has said that they will be monitoring Iran with greater authority in the coming weeks. The US has also accused Iran as a “primary money laundering concern.”

US President Barack Obama has said through a written statement that the United States has identified Iranian banking sector as a threat to financial institutions and governments that have business with Iran’s banks. The UK has since ceased all trade with Iran’s banks.

Saudi Shifts

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabias was recently named the kingdom’s new defense minister in a royal decree that follows the death of his older brother just last month who had been in the position for five decades.

Prince Salman has been the governor of Riyadh Province for almost 50 years, and he now controls the top-spending ministry in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom boasts one of the best-equipped militaries in all of the Middle East and has used its arms purchases to reinforce ties with Western allies like the United States, Britain and France.

Prince Salman is seen as the third most senior member of the ruling al-Saud family after his older half brother King Abdullah and his older full brother the Crown Prince Nayef.
The recent decree also divided the defense ministry from the aviation ministry and appointed Prince Khaled bin Sultan as Deputy Defense Minister. Prince Khaled had served as Assistant Defense Minister to his father, Crown Prince Sultan, who died of cancer last month in New York.

Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz was named Riyadh Governor after serving as deputy governor under Prince Salman for many years. The post of Riyadh governor is considered to be among the most important in the country and was previously held by both Crown Prince Sultan and Crown Prince Nayef. Meanwhile, millions of Muslims from around the world arrived last week in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca to celebrate the first day of Hajj.

I ran for my life, a Syrias Situation and PA sings the blues


Journalist and talk radio host Aaron Klein wrote a piece for Arutz Sheva in which he posits rumors that Israel is about to attack Iran, not exactly correct. Klein wrote:

“The visible Israeli military preparations, including this week’s missile tests, most likely are related to the strong possibility of a U.S.-NATO-led campaign against Israel’s Syrian neighbor to the north. The regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad – a key partner to Iran – has been accused of major human rights violations, including crimes against humanity…”

Meanwhile, United Press International reported:
“Speculation a recent air force exercise and rocket propulsion system test are linked to a debate on a strike against Iran is “nonsense,” an official said.

Israel Radio quoted an anonymous Israeli defense official as saying Thursday it is “absolute nonsense” to presume a recent air force exercise with the Italian air force and the testing of a rocket propulsion system are linked to reports Israel is preparing for a possible airstrike on Iran’s nuclear sites.

The official’s remarks come amid intensive public debate over reports Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are pushing for a strike. The army’s Home Front command conducted a drill Thursday simulating missile attacks in the center of the country. Sirens also were tested.

In other news, the Associated Press reports that Israel is threatening to suspend the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinian Authority totaling some $100 million in a protest of the PA’s recent admission to the United Nations’ cultural agency…

Saeb Erekat was quoted saying, “I think it would be easier for Mr. Ban Ki-moon to ask the Congress to change their laws…I don’t think Palestine’s admittance to any of these agencies will bring harm.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said: “We want to make sure that we will succeed there, and the moment we will succeed there, our membership in the remaining U.N. organizations becomes an automatic one…”

Palestinian Authority Telephone Network Hacked

According to reports from the Palestinian military, the main phone network in the West Bank and Gaza has suffered a sustained attack by computer hackers…

As a result, most of the Palestinian territory has lost internet service.

The PA claims that the crash has been caused by computer hackers sabotaging the Paltel telephone network.


In other news, Israeli troops rearrested Hassan Yusef, a senior Hamas official this week along with his son. Yusef was released from jail in August after serving a six-year term for “membership of a terrorist organization,” however he was rearrested in early September before being released a week later.

“The occupation raided Hassan Yusef’s house in Ramallah and arrested him with his son Owais…”

Hamas condemns the move and warns that there will be “consequences.” “We strongly condemn this arrest campaign against leaders of the movement, particularly Sheikh Hassan Yusef,” Hamas official Ismail Abu Radwan told Associated Press.

Yusef was freed on August 4 as part of a mass release of Israeli and Palestinian prisoners due to overcrowding. He had just six weeks left in his sentence.

Last March, Yusef disowned yet another son after he had admitted to spying on Hamas for Israel and playing a major role in the arrest of senior militants.

Mosab Hassan Yusef – 32 –was a top informer for Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency and was known by the codename “The Green Prince.” And he authored the bestselling book, Son of Hamas.

Reportedly, Yusef worked for the Shin Bet at the height of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which began in 2000, when Hamas carried out dozens of suicide bombings and Israel waged a war on the group.

The senior Yusef was elected to the Palestinian parliament in 2006, while still in Israeli custody.

Mazal Tov to the Palestinian Authority!


On Monday, they became a full member of the U.N. cultural and educational agency. As a result, U.S. lawmakers have threatened to withhold roughly $80 million in annual funding to UNESCO if it approved Palestinian membership. Currently, the United States provides some 22 percent of UNESCO’s funding.

Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes would have been required for approval in a hall with 173 UNESCO member delegations present.

The United States, Canada and Germany voted against Palestinian membership while, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain abstained.

Meanwhile, the NGO, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions has presented the United Nations with a case that Israel targeted Palestinians by demolishing homes, revoking residency and spoiling the quality of life. Israel made no comment.

Since Saturday, Israel has been under a constant salvo of grad missiles. With upwards of ten Israeli civilians killed and dozens wounded.

As a result of Israel’s response, 12 Palestinians have been killed, all of them members of the terrorist organization, Al Ahrar and Islamic Jihad and among them one of the group’s chief bomb makers. Islamic Jihad has vowed revenge saying ‘Our response shall be in the depths of the Zionist entity.’

No-Fly in Syria

NATO is considering a no-fly zone in Syria after Bashar al-Assad, warned that any western intervention would cause an “earthquake” which would “burn the whole region…” reported the guardian.

Some Syrian anti-government groups have called on the west to defend them as fighting between security forces and armed protesters continues to escalate – however a war like the one that will end in Libya on Monday is doubtful.

The UN security council would have to approve any operation in Syria – a step which would be unlikely given Chinese and Russian opposition. “We would need a clear mandate from the international community, as well as support from the Arab League and Syria’s neighbours,” a NATO official said, adding that so far “no-one had asked” for NATO’s help.

NATO’s reluctance to get embroiled in Syria’s internal conflict came as Assad warned that outside intervention in his country’s affairs could lead to “another Afghanistan.”

On Sunday, a Syrian delegation met in Doha with an Arab League ministerial committee. On 16 October the league gave Damascus a 15-day deadline to put in place a ceasefire, that is over on Sunday. Since then 343 people have been killed, including 40 last Friday, one of the worst days of bloodshed since the uprising began.

Protests have intensified amidst events in the Arab world: the brutal death of Muammar Gaddafi, and Tunisia’s successful democratic elections last week. In a show of support for Assad’s regime on Sunday thousands of Syrians carrying the national flag rallied in Sweida, a city 70 miles south of Damascus.

The situation in Syria is at the top of the international agenda. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, said the latest civilian killings were alarming and called for Assad to carry out “far-reaching reforms, not repression and violence.”

Palestinian’s Do The UN

On Wednesday, the Palestinians received approval for a statehood bid for full membership in Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as part of their broader campaign for recognition as a state by the United Nations Security Council. But full membership in Unesco could mean a legally mandated cutoff of all contributions from the United States, both dues and voluntary.

Currently, the peace-process is at an impasse, according to the PLO, as a result of expanded settlement construction by Bibi. Israel who has just returned murderous Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit was pounded Sunday and Monday by rockets fired at civilian areas.

Existing United States legislation will cutoff of money to the United Nations or any of its agencies should they grant “full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” Currently, the United States contributes 22 percent of Unesco’s budget.

The first approval came in a vote by Unesco’s executive board of 58 nations. Full membership would require approval by the 193-nation General Conference. Membership would permit Palestinian officials to seek the protection of Palestinian historical sites by the cultural organization.

Sponsored by several Arab states, the executive board approved a draft resolution for membership by a 40-to-4 vote. Fourteen delegations have abstained, including ones from France, Belgium, Italy and Spain, while America, Latvia, Germany and Romania in opposing the measure; Russia joined African and Arab states to support the bid.

Hillary Clinton said:

“Unfortunately there are those who, in their enthusiasm to recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people, are skipping over the most important step, which is determining what the state will look like, what its borders are, how it will deal with the myriad issues that states must address…”

However, Palestinian officials have said that failure at the Security Council would push them to seek an upgrade in their United Nations status to that of a “non-member state.”

Saudi Cleric to Pay Palestinian Terrorists

Awad al-Qarni, a prominent Saudi cleric is paying no less than $100,000 to any Palestinian who kidnaps an Israeli soldier.

He said that he had made the offer in response to a similar reward promised by an Israeli family for anyone who catches the person who killed one of its loved ones in 1998, apropos to the exchange this month of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

On his Facebook page, Qarni wrote:

“The media reported the news of the Zionist occupiers paying a huge sum to anyone who killed the freed Palestinian prisoners… In response to those criminals, I announce to the world that I am committed to pay a $100,000 prize to any Palestinian inside Palestine who takes an Israeli soldier captive to exchange with (remaining) prisoners.”

Qarni told Al Arabiya television:

“We have also received letters from … groups from Arab countries. So the issue is not limited to Qarni, who was just the person who launched this initiative…”

Saudi Arabia, where the prophet Mohammed hails from, considers itself a defender of Palestinian rights, however, Saudi leaders have been at pains to curb increasingly radical statements by other Muslim clerics regarding the Middle East conflict.

Back in 2002, the Western-allied kingdom began a peace initiative demanding Arab recognition of Israel if Israel will give up all of the land which it occupied during the war in 1967 and Israel decides to accept a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Meanwhile, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz‘s long-expected passing at age 87 in New York on Saturday could not have happened at a worse time for his presumed successor, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, to take the throne after King Abdullah.

The Saudi kingdom uses a 60-year old succession system that has thus far proven a smooth transition of power.

Turkey Turkey Have No Fear Your Ancient Pal Israel Is Here!


Turkia Have No Fear! The Jewish Country is here!

It is no big deal. You know. Offering assistance to countries who seek to place sanctions on you. And it really puts world politics in perspective. People come first. Then governments. Then schwarma.

Recently, the Turks were rocked by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, according to their seismology center. The quake occurred in the east of the country in a town known as Ercis which sits on a geological fault line and may have killed and injured upwards of 1,000 people, and collapsed 45 buildings. 10 other buildings have fallen in the city of Van.

The Telegraph reports:
Emergency teams were trying to rescue people believed to be trapped in a building in Van, near the Iranian border, state-run news agency Anatolian said. It said 50 injured people had been taken to hospital in Van, but did not give details on how serious their injuries were.

The Kandilli Observatory said the earthquake struck at 10.41 GMT and was 5km (3 miles) deep. The U.S. Geological Survey earlier reported that the magnitude was 7.6. Television pictures showed damaged buildings and vehicles, crushed under falling masonry, and panicked residents wandering in the streets.

Turkish media said phone lines and electricity had been cut off. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was heading to Van to see the damage, media reported. Aftershocks continued after the initial quake, whose epicentre was at the village of Tabanli, north of Van city, the agency said.

In Hakkari, a town around 100km (60 miles) south of the city of Van in southeastern Turkey, a building could be felt swaying for around 10 seconds during the quake. There was no immediate sign of any casualties or damage in Hakkari, around two and half hours drive through the mountains from Van, around 20km from the epicentre.

Major geological faultlines cross Turkey and small earthquakes are a near daily occurrence. Two large quakes in 1999 killed more than 20,000 people in northwest Turkey. Two people were killed and 79 injured in May when an earthquake shook Simav in northwest Turkey.

Despite recent animosity between these two governments it is Israel to the rescue, as it was recently when natural disasters occurred in countries such as Japan and Pakistan.
Note however, Turkey offered its aid to Israel during a massive wildfire that consumed a formidable chunk of Israel’s Carmel region late last year, and sent firefighting aircrafts.

Ehud Barak said Israel is offering to aid the Turkish government in any way it can. The Geophysical Institute of Israel said the quake was also felt in residential high rises in central Tel Aviv. Barak instructed the head of the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau, Amos Gilad, to contact Turkish officials and offer them “any aid that they may need.” The Foreign Ministry officials have also initiated contact with Ankara in order to estimate the extent of aid required, if at all.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement that, following orders by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, he contacted Turkish authorities, saying “Israel’s embassy in Ankara had already issued the offer to Turkish officials.”

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has ordered the IDF’s Home Front Command to prepare for the possible launching of a special delegation to the Turkish disaster zone.
In other news, the following report is from yesterday’s NYTimes:

ISTANBUL — More than 49 Kurdish insurgents were killed in the first two days of a new Turkish military offensive against P.K.K. rebels in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, the military said Saturday.
The military began the operation, involving heavy air support and more than 10,000 troops, on Thursday, a day after an attack by the P.K.K., or Kurdish Worker’s Party, killed 24 soldiers and injured 18 in the province of Hakkari, in one of the deadliest single-day attacks in recent years.
Part of the operation has extended into the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, a mountainous border area where P.K.K. militants often take shelter. Turkey has staged cross-border operations or bombardment several times in recent years, and it is a thorny issue in Turkey’s relationship with Iraq.

Now that the United States is leaving Iraq, trumpeting triumphantly in foreign policy, DebkaFile reports:
The eight-year US military presence in Iraq ends therefore leaving Iran sitting pretty on its two key strategic goals:

1. The exit of American soldiers, whose presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion was deemed in Tehran a continuous threat to its borders. US military involvement in Afghanistan is seen in the same light.

2. A weak Shiite-led government in place in Baghdad, heavily dependent on Tehran’s will. Torn by strife among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, Iraq is in no state to obstruct Iran’s hegemonic plans for the Persian Gulf and Syria.

The Iranian regime’s right hand for achieving those goals was – and is – Al Qods commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the man also accused by Washington of masterminding the assassination plot.
Washington is well aware of Soleimani’s capacity for interfering with American interests. Indeed he crows about it.

Palestinian Bid Under Nigerian Foot, Grapel to be Freed by Panetta and more!

Last Sunday, Israel guided by Bibi welcomed parts of an international plan for resuming the long-dormant peace talks with the Palestinians; however, much warranted caveats were issued.

Mediators from the Mideast Quartet – an organization made of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – put forth its plan late last month after the Palestinians bypassed negotiations and asked the United Nations to recognize a state of Palestine in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians said they will not be resuming talks until Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. However with renewed building in towns to the east of the widely disputed “green line” and aUN statehood by Abbas that bombed, this will likely not be the case.

Meanwhile, Nigeria refuses to say how it will vote when the United Nations Security Council decides on the Palestinians’ bidfor UN membership.

Ynet reported:

“Nigeria appears to be a crucial vote as Palestinians try to secure support from at least nine of the 15 council members. The US has said it will veto the request. However, the US could avoid that if Palestinians fail to get those nine votes.”

The oil-rich Nigeria is under the strong influence of the United States, which is one of the country’s top buyers of crude oil pumped from its southern delta.

In other news, last Saturday Egypt said it was considering releasing Ilan Grapel, an American Israeli who has been incarcerated in Egypt since June 12.

Grapel was falsely charged by local authorities with spying for Mossad.
Cairo authorities are reportedly considering releasing the 27-year-old in exchange for “greater US political and financial support.”

So who will deliver Grapel back to the Promised Land?

It will be United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who is scheduled to arrive in Egypt and will “take Grapel back with him at the end of the visit.”

The same source that disclosed this information added that “what Grapel did during the revolution did not amount to spying and by this logic he can be released in exchange for financial benefits.”

Ynet reports:

“Grapel immigrated to Israel from the US and served as a lone soldier in the Paratroopers’ 101 Battalion. He enlisted in the IDF in March 2005 and was injured during the Second Lebanon War. He had been traveling in Egypt during the popular revolution and was reportedly intrigued by the ongoings. Arab media reports suggested he tried to spark a civil war between Egypt’s Muslims and Coptic Christians.”

The Arab Fall

Yemen
The fault line that caused the political earthquake that erupted in the Middle East last winter and changed the chemicals in the environment continues to spread wider and wider into the months, and perhaps a new year – threatening to call the hopeful journalistic moniker, “the Arab Spring” a misnomer!

So what’s going down in the neighborhood?
Ali Abdullah Saleh, wicked ruler of Yemen says he won’t step down and submit to a Coup d’etat that would come in the form of a democratic restructuring of that country should his opponents be permitted to compete in the next election.

Saleh is specifically referring to the dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected earlier in the year to the favor of anti-government demonstrators, as well as the stalwart tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar. Ali Abdullah Saleh recently returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia on September 23, where he was receiving treatment for injuries he received in a June 3 rocket attack on the presidential palace.

The 69-year-old has consistently refused to sign a power transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council; a deal that would see him hand over power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

Lebanon
In another part of the world, Najib Mikati is the prime-minister of Lebanon, where the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah commands all military authority. Lebanon says that an Israeli reconnaissance plane penetrated Lebanese airspace and thereby violated UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

The Lebanese military reported last Saturday that the Israeli aircraft entered Lebanese airspace from the southern border at 10:05 a.m. (0705 GMT) on Friday and flew over several areas of the country. Afterwards, the plane left the country at 3:15 p.m. (1215 GMT). UNIFIL, the United Nations-appointed peacekeeper in the region condemn such flyovers.

Lebanon’s leader, Mikati, has supported the President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath regime in Syria from the get-go. In an interview with the Daily Beast he said:

Are you worried that the unrest in Syria will spill over into Lebanon?

No … What I’m trying to do is create a kind of wall between what’s happening in Syria and any implication here on the Lebanese side … I’m trying to say, “Please, this is an internal Syrian issue. Let us take care of our own agenda; take care of our own problems.”

You’ve had business ties with Assad in the past. Are you still in touch with him? Do you talk?

Yes, we were friends. Unfortunately, now he’s so busy. [I haven’t had] the chance to see him or even talk to him. Some Syrian opposition groups have criticized you for supporting Assad.
That’s politics. Some analysts predict that Hizbullah will attempt a military takeover of Lebanon if the Assad regime falls. This is a very hypothetical issue.

Your critics have called you “Hizbullah’s candidate.” Your reaction?

In the beginning, they put this label of Hizbullah [on me]. But … we’re taking our decisions independently.

You don’t take Hizbullah’s interests into account?

We listen to everybody.

When the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued indictments in the assassination of Hariri, you said you would follow up. But in early August, the prosecutor general said no suspects have been found or arrested. What is the government doing?

The relevant authorities have been looking for the various people on a daily basis. And they already submitted a detailed report about their findings. I believe it’s now up to the court to decide if what we did is right and what we have to do next.

Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently said that even if it took 300 years, nobody from Hezbullah would be arrested. Did that undermine the work of your government?

It’s his point of view. We have complete freedom of speech … He has the right to say whatever he wants.

Libya
In other news, Libyan Jews are now returning home after a 44-year exile imposed by General Muammar al-Qadaffi. He had expelled the rest of Libya’s 38,000 Jews two years after the 1967 war broke out between Israel and a conglomerate of Arab nations. The Jews went to America, Italy, Israel; all over.

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