Hizbullah's Asylum Offer to Syrian Alawites - Huda al Husseini (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
With Syria's accelerating and inevitable collapse, Iran is preparing to back an Alawite entity made up of the Syrian provinces adjacent to the Lebanese border.
This region includes the big port in Latakia that continues to be used to provide supplies to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
At the same time, Iran is working to place all of Lebanon under its control.
According to reliable sources, Hizbullah began last month to propose to Alawite officers in the Syrian army to seek refuge in Lebanon.
On one hand, the aim was to calm the growing concern of many Alawite officers that they may be tried as war criminals.
On the other hand, the offer aims at reinforcing the ranks of Hizbullah's fighters with veteran Alawite officers with high combat experience.
These moves are led from behind the scenes by one of the security aides of Hizbullah's secretary general.
Hizbullah is concentrating on Syrian officers that are experienced in the use of modern weapons systems, particularly Russian-made, long-range rockets and anti-aircraft missiles.
See also Hizbullah Condemned for "Attack on Syrian Villages" (BBC News)
The Syrian National Council said Hizbullah fighters on Saturday attacked three villages in the Quasar region of Homs near the Lebanese border, in support of the Syrian government.
Israel Proposing Alternative to Suez Canal (Al Bawaba-Jordan)
The London Times reported Saturday that Israel is finalizing a railway route that poses an alternative to the Suez Canal, noting that the "instability in Egypt has added to the urgency of a project to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea."
Syria: The Growing Power of Jihadist Groups - Stuart Ramsay (Sky News)
The number of Jihadist groups flooding into Syria two years after the start of the uprising is threatening to eclipse the power of mainstream opposition groups as well as the authority of the Free Syrian Army.
One of the increasingly influential groups, Jabah al Haq (The Front for Justice), told Sky News that Jihad is spreading across North Africa and the Middle East and will not stop at Syria but will include Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and even Israel.
The foreigners are coming. I have seen a steady increase from Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria.
Even the Free Syrian Army accepts that, like it or not, the Jihadists will play a future role in the make-up of post-Assad Syria.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel: North Korea Nuclear Test Shows Sanctions Alone Won't Stop Iran's Atomic Program
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that North Korea's recent nuclear test shows that "sanctions alone will not stop" Iran's atomic program.
He said Western sanctions against Tehran "have to be coupled with a robust, credible, military threat. If they are not, then there is no chance to stop them." He says Iran will top his agenda when President Barack Obama visits Israel next month.
- Turkey-Iran Gold Trade Wiped Out by New U.S. Sanctions - Asli Kandemir
U.S. officials have sought to prevent Turkish gold exports, which indirectly pay Iran for its natural gas, from providing a financial lifeline to Tehran.
A provision of a U.S. sanctions law implemented from Feb. 6 tightens control on sales of precious metals to Iran and prevents Halkbank from processing oil payments by other countries back to Tehran, bankers said on Friday.
Turkey, Iran's biggest natural gas customer, has been paying Iran for its imports with Turkish lira, because sanctions prevent it from paying in dollars or euros. "With so many restrictions, Iran's cash may accumulate in Halkbank accounts...they may have difficulty getting some of that money out of Turkey," a senior Turkish banker said. (Reuters)
- Israel Offers to Lay a Gas Pipeline to Turkey
Israel has offered to lay an undersea natural gas pipeline to Turkey in order to sell energy to Europe, but the Turkish government has yet to give an answer due to the political tension between the two parties, a Turkish energy ministry official said.
"Israel has made a bid to build a pipeline to Turkey within the last two weeks," the official said. "But we have a policy regarding Israel and the claim that Turkey leans toward this idea is not true." (Hurriyet-Turkey)
- Israeli Hospital Treats Wounded from Syria - Sara Sidner, Kareem Khadder, and Josh Levs
Israel is treating seven Syrians wounded in that country's civil war at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, said Dr. Oscar Embon, the hospital's director.
"We treat patients regardless of religion, race, nationality and give the best care we can provide," Embon said. Israeli doctors frequently treat people from groups with which Israel has tensions, or even is engaged in conflict.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said the Israel Defense Forces "provided medical care to seven injured Syrians adjacent to the security fence between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, and the wounded were transferred to an Israeli hospital for further treatment." (CNN)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF Chief of Staff: Risk of Terrorism from Syria Growing - Yaakov Lappin and Ariel Ben Solomon
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said Sunday that the risk of terrorism from Syria was growing as al-Qaeda-affiliated groups there take hold. He also noted that the chances of a chemical weapons attack from Syria are "very, very low." (Jerusalem Post)
- EU Unlikely to Blacklist Hizbullah
The EU is inclined to not declare Hizbullah a terror organization, even though evidence indicates that it was behind a lethal attack on Israelis in Bulgaria, EU sources quoted by Israel Radio said Saturday.
(Times of Israel)
- Fatah Gunmen Demand PA Pay Raise - Khaled Abu Toameh
Former members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, demanded Sunday that the Palestinian Authority raise their salaries, saying the monthly
NIS 1,500 that each one receives was not enough.
- Egypt Seizes Another Arms Cache in Sinai
Egyptian authorities seized a weapons cache in al-Arish in the Sinai desert, a security official said on Sunday. "The seized weapons include 21 anti-aircraft shells, six anti-tank mines and an anti-aircraft gun," he said. On Friday, security authorities said they had captured two tons of explosives in the main Suez transport tunnel that links Egypt to Sinai.
See also Egypt Forces Find 225 Gaza Tunnels under Border
Egyptian forces have discovered over 225 smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza, military spokesperson Col. Ahmed Mohamed Ali said Sunday. "Each tunnel has several exits, including inside Egyptian houses."
Earlier this week, reporters saw one tunnel being used to bring in cement and gravel suddenly fill with water, deliberately pumped in by the Egyptians. One tunnel owner said that 150-200 tunnels had been closed by Egypt since an attack in Sinai last August which left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead.
- Aftermath of Revolution - Michael Albertus and Victor Menaldo
While many had hoped for a democratic transition in countries swept by the Arab Spring, the sad fact is that many revolutions lead to renewed dictatorships. President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are attempting to institutionalize an old-fashioned power grab in Egypt, while in Tunisia, the ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, has ridden roughshod over secularists.
Since the end of World War II, there have been roughly 50 major revolutions that have either toppled autocratic regimes or led to significant political reform in "flawed" democracies. For those revolutions that have occurred under dictatorships, only about a third have resulted in transitions to democracy. Michael Albertus is assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago. Victor Menaldo is assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington.
(New York Times)
- Setting a Clear Red Line in Israel's
Legal Narrative toward Iran - Roy van Keulen
The Six-Day War demonstrated that under certain circumstances, self-defense
may be invoked to maintain a defensible situation, even if an
armed attack is not imminent but an indefensible situation is imminent.
Furthermore, we have seen that there are threats with which no state can
be expected to live when there exists a manifest intent to injure, an active
degree of preparation that makes that intent a positive danger, and a
general situation in which waiting, or doing anything other than fighting,
greatly magnifies the risk.
The intention of Iran toward the State of Israel has been expressed
clearly by President Ahmadinejad, who stated that Israel must be wiped from the map.
When placed in the context of other statements made by the
Iranian regime, it becomes apparent that the intentions toward Israel
are the same as the intentions of Israel's adversaries prior to the Six-Day
War, namely the destruction of the State of Israel.
Given the fact that Iran is the only state that calls for the
destruction of another state and given the fact that Iran is the largest state
sponsor of terrorist groups that not only share but also actively pursue
this goal day in and day out, Iran's intentions toward Israel are unequivocally
how Israel, prior to the Six-Day War, did not have to accept the continued
buildup of enemy forces until the point where victory of its adversaries
would be a fait accompli, neither does Israel have to accept the continued
buildup of Iran's nuclear program until the point referred to as the zone
(Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- The Grand Universal Illusion - Michael J. Totten
Prof. Richard Landes explains what he calls cognitive egocentrism. "The act of empathy can often become an act of projecting onto another 'what I would feel if I were in their shoes,' rather than an attempt to understand how the person with whom one is empathizing has reacted to their situation, how they read and interpret events." People do this sort of thing all the time. We also do it to foreign people, and they do it to us.
In early predictions about the Arab Spring, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was routinely described in the Western press as a party of mainstream religious conservatives who deeply believed in democracy and free markets, as if they were Egypt's version of the Republicans in the U.S. Likewise, the kids in Tahrir Square were seen as Egypt's Democrats. Both assumptions were outrageously wide of reality. There's not much we can do to prevent foreign people from projecting their psychology onto us, but we should at least resist doing the same thing to them. (World Affairs)
Hizbullah Unmasked - Thomas E. Donilon (New York Times)
- On Feb. 5, after more than six months of investigations, the Bulgarian government announced that it believed Hizbullah was responsible for the attack last July that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver and injured dozens more in the resort town of Burgas.
- This report is significant because a European Union member state, Bulgaria, explicitly pointed a finger at Hizbullah and lifted the veil on the group's continued terrorist activities. Europe can no longer ignore the threat that this group poses to the Continent and to the world.
- Hizbullah first gained notoriety in 1983 after bombing the U.S. Embassy in Beirut - an attack that killed 63 people. Shortly thereafter, Hizbullah bombed the American and French Marine Barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans and 58 French service members.
- European governments must respond swiftly. They must disrupt its operational networks, stop flows of financial assistance to the group, crack down on Hizbullah-linked criminal enterprises and condemn the organization's leaders for their continued pursuit of terrorism.
- The U.S. applauds those countries that have long recognized Hizbullah's nefarious nature. Europe must now act collectively and respond resolutely to this attack by adding Hizbullah to the EU's terrorist list.
The writer is the national security adviser to President Obama.
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