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Excerpts: Beginning of a ‘new era’ in Lebanon. Abbas plans Fatah

Sunday, October 30, 2016 14:17
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Excerpts: Beginning of a ‘new era’ in Lebanon. Abbas plans Fatah Congress. 4
Iranian arms shipments to Yemen stopped October 28, 2016

+++Source:Al Arabiya 28 Oct.’16:”Beginning of a ‘new era’ in Lebanon”byNayla
Tueni
SUBJECT:Beginning of a ‘new era’ in Lebanon
FULL TEXT:Last week, Future Movement leader and MP Saad Hariri endorsed
Christian leader Michel Aoun for Lebanon’s presidency. The move has sparked
reactions from various quarters.

In the wake of this development, we must carefully observe the activities of
Ashraf Rifi, who resigned as justice minister. We must also take into
account the views of those who oppose this endorsement even though they may
be few in number.

It is important to do this if we seek to address the worries of some people
and the rejections of others voiced through social networking websites. It’s
true that these are virtual world campaigns that may not have much to do
with reality on the ground. In other words, these voices of dissent may not
spill on to the streets but some questions are legitimate and express the
views of a wide range of people.

What’s interesting is that these objections do not represent what was once
called the March 14 coalition as the fiercest objection came from the other
party, to what was once called the March 8 coalition.

However, authorities must reveal the truth. If that doesn’t happen, then it
will be akin to the country being handed over to the Iranian-Syrian axis who
will either exploit presidential vacuum or influence the presidency.
Officials, if they are truly responsible, must be frank with the Lebanese
people and clarify what has happened in the past and what they plan for the
future.

If the presidency is a Lebanese affair, as it is being emphasized, then
political parties must take the blame for delaying its election for two and
a half years. They must bear responsibility for this vacuum and must be held
accountable for this intentional obstruction. They should also apologize to
the Lebanese people for all that this vacuum has caused.

No veil of secrecy
Agreements within political parties must not be kept secret in the interest
of the public. These agreements must not just focus on sharing the booty and
distributing ministerial portfolios. They shouldn’t try to control the oil
and gas sector, which is a national treasure that may suffer as a result of
negligence, lack of responsibility and interests of global companies.

The Lebanese people have the right to know the details of the agreement
between the Future Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement. They must know
what angered Speaker Nabih Berri and why he objected to Hariri’s endorsement
of Aoun.

More importantly, isn’t it necessary for the most important candidate to
appear in the media and try and convince citizens that he is the best
choice? Unfortunately, the idea of a debate remains remote in our country
which otherwise claims to be a democracy.

Media appearances, such as the one made by Aoun to satisfy the Sunnis, are
not enough to explain his presidential program or his ambitions because
executive jurisdictions have been transferred to the government.

The candidate must explain his agenda so that people understand his vision
and provide him with the support needed to face a fierce opposition that may
obstruct him from carrying out his duties.

Opposition is an important and necessary element in democratic countries.
What’ more important though is for these objections to be heard and to be
provided with clear answers. Overlook objections is a huge mistake as this
means indifference to people’s views and implies contempt for “the great
people of Lebanon.”

This article was first published in Annahar on Oct. 24, 2016.
____________________
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of
the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following
the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the
board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior
to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various
sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be
followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet(Lebanon)28 Oct.’16:”Under Pressure,Abbas Plans First
Fatah Congress since 2009”,by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:Abbas plans Fatah Conference

Quote:”Diana Bittu:’we don’t know who will follow him,and we don’t even know
how They will be chosen’ “

FULL TEXT:Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party aims to hold its
first congress since 2009 by the end of this year, an official said, in what
some analysts have called a bid by the 81-year-old to stave off rivals.

The plan to hold the congress of the mainstream party he heads comes as Arab
states have reportedly been pressuring Abbas to bring longtime rival
Mohammed Dahlan back from exile in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

While Abbas’s advisers insist the congress is being organised simply because
it is overdue, some analysts see it as an opportunity for him to reshuffle
key positions and sideline Dahlan allies.

A member of the Fatah central committee said on condition of anonymity that
the congress would take place “before the end of the year,” hopefully in
November.

It will be Fatah’s seventh since its formation and the first since 2009.

The congress is to include elections for Fatah’s 23-member central
committee, in which Abbas serves as president, and its 132-member
revolutionary council.

The so-called Arab Quartet — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — has
been pushing for Abbas to resolve issues with rivals in Fatah with a view
towards a wider reconciliation between Palestinian factions.

Besides splits within the party, Abbas’s secular Fatah and the Islamist
movement Hamas have been at loggerheads since the latter seized Gaza in a
near civil war in 2007.

In a recent poll, 65 percent of Palestinians were pessimistic about the
potential for reconciliation, with just 31 percent optimistic.

Another source of concern has been Saudi Arabia not providing any financial
contributions to the Palestinian budget since April, according to the
Palestinian finance ministry’s website.

The oil-rich Gulf state normally provides around $20 million a month, and
there have been suggestions the money has been withheld over frustration
with the deadlock.

- Succession talk -Abbas, known to be a heavy smoker, was hospitalised
earlier this month for a heart test, though he has since returned to his
normal duties.

“Everyone is thinking about post-Abbas succession. Everyone has their
preferred candidates,” said Hugh Lovatt, Israel and Palestine coordinator
for the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

“Abbas has been consolidating his position — excluding his potential
rivals. There is no clear person in his camp who could succeed him.”

The Arab Quartet has reportedly been seeking to encourage Abbas to bring
Dahlan back.

Dahlan, Fatah’s former strongman in Gaza, was expelled from the party in
2011 and now lives in exile in the UAE.

“It is no secret Dahlan is the preferred candidate of the Arab Quartet,”
Lovatt said.

Dahlan has previously called for Abbas to step aside and on Sunday[23 Oct]
gave an interview with BBC Arabic in which he again criticised him.

Hundreds of his supporters in his native Gaza recently marched calling for
his return — with some burning pictures of Abbas.

Officials insist the timing of the congress is unrelated to succession
rumours.

Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs advisor to Abbas, said it was merely because
Fatah must hold a congress every five years, though the previous one was
2009.

“There is so much analysis about the timing. The timing is (because) the
congress of Fatah is due,” he told AFP.

But Jehad Harb from the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research
said it was a way for Abbas to stave off what he sees as “interference” from
Arab states.

“Dahlan is trying to use the Quartet to return to Fatah, while Abu Mazen
(Abbas) wants to exclude Dahlan under the cover of the decisions of Fatah.”

At least three positions on Fatah’s executive committee are thought to be up
for grabs, with Dahlan expected to be formally removed and two others having
died. Rumours of others being expelled abound.

Meanwhile, wider Palestinian politics has stalled. Abbas’s term as
Palestinian president officially ended in 2009 but there has been no
election since.

Diana Buttu, a former Abbas spokeswoman and now a fierce critic, said that
moves to alienate challengers had created uncertainty over a succession, in
contrast to the smooth transition when veteran leader Yasser Arafat died in
2004.

“With Abu Mazen (Abbas) we don’t know who will follow him, and we don’t even
know how. They will be chosen,” she said.

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 28 Oct.’16:”4 Iranian arms shipments to Yemen
stopped — US admiral”, By Agence France Presse

SUBJECT:4 Iranian arms shipments to Yemen stopped

QUOTE:”Donegal says shipments contained thousands of AK-47 assault rifles”

FULL TEXT: DUBAI — Warships from the US Navy and allied nations have
intercepted four weapons shipments from Iran to war-ravaged Yemen since
April 2015, a US admiral said on Thursday.

Yemen has been rocked by conflict since Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran
the capital Sanaa and other large parts of the country in 2014, prompting
military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition in March last year in support
of the internationally recognised government.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of arming the
insurgents, and while Tehran denies the charges, the coalition has since
enforced maritime and air control over the Arabian Peninsula country.

“Either US ships or coalition ships… intercepted four weapons shipments
from Iran to Yemen,” said US Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan.

“We know they came from Iran and we know the destination,” he told reporters
at an undisclosed military base in Southwest Asia.

Donegal said the shipments contained thousands of AK-47 assault rifles,
anti-tank missiles, sniper rifles and “other pieces of other equipment,
higher-end weapons systems”.

Naval officials were able to determine the destination of the boats by
analysing GPS settings and interviewing the crew.

One of the shipments had been validated by the United Nations as being an
illegal weapons shipment, said Donegal.

His comments come after US military’s Central Command Chief General Joseph
Votel said last week Iran may have played a role in suspected Houthi missile
attacks this month against US warships in the Red Sea.

“We believe that Iran is connected to this in some way,” Donegan said.

Given the heavy volume of traffic around the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf,
the three-star admiral said “plenty” of other shipments would have gone
through to Yemen.

The arms seizures came after Iran in April 2015 tried to send a convoy of
seven ships, guarded by two Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels, to
Yemen.

Donegan said these were filled with coastal-defence cruise missiles,
explosives and other weapons.

The Shiite Houthi rebels are believed to be behind this month’s attacks in
which surface-to-surface missiles were fired at the USS Mason on at least
two occasions.

In response, US cruise missiles on October 13 struck Houthi radar sites
believed to have been used to target the weapons.

The Mason and two other warships were likely targeted in a third missile
attack on October 15, but officials have not conclusively confirmed what the
threat was or where it was coming from.

Yemen’s conflict has killed nearly 7,000 people, wounded more than 35,000
and displaced at least 3 million since the Saudi-led coalition launched
military operations, according to the United Nations.
============
Sue Lerner – Associate, IMRA

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