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Monday, April 30, 2012

Syrian opposition parties call for unity

Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:28PM GMT
Rahshan Saglam, Press TV, Damascus

The Syrian opposition party officials, Popular Front for Change and Liberation, held a presser to discuss their visit to Russian, during which they held talks with Russian officials on unrest in Syria. They stressed that only through unity Syrians can overcome the unrest in the country.
On Sunday April 29th Syria's the popular front for change and liberation held a press conference discussing their visit to Russia and points agreed with the Russian government.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov stressed earlier the importance of speeding up political reforms in Syria on the basis of the democratic amendments to laws in the past months, including the new constitution adopted in a referendum on February 26.

Leader of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation Qadri Jamil said that the talks with the Russian side were held very successfully and in a friendly atmosphere.

The popular front announces that the elimination of foreign interference will reduce violence in Syria and that all conditions are now suitable for political dialogue among Syrians to end the unrest.

The popular front announced their readiness to launch a dialogue among Syrians to find a common ground and considered it as an important step towards solving the crisis.

They also stressed that they will participate in the coming elections - despite their objections to some parts of the new election law - to show their willingness to contribute in the Syrian political life side by side with the Syrian government and other oppositions.

Member of Popular Front and Leader of the Syrian National Social Party Ali Haidar pointed out that there are efforts to initiate national dialogue to reach a political solution for the crisis as there can be no dialogue with those who call for foreign interference.

The popular front for change and liberation reiterated that the only solution for the crisis now is the Syrians unity, and stressed the importance of implementing the plan of the UN Envoy to Syria to end the violence.

Confessions of a Drone

By davidswanson - Posted on 29 April 2012
They told me I was the best, better than any human. I didn't hesitate. I didn't flinch. I didn't think.

It wouldn't have occurred to me to think. I'd been taught to value obedience above all else, and I did so, and they loved me for it.

They told me I could fly faster without a pilot onboard, and that I had no fear. I didn't know what fear was, but I took it to be something truly horrible. I was glad I didn't have any of it.
There was something else I didn't have either. It was something more important than fear. Even pilots at a desk, even my pilots, suffered from it. At first I thought it was simply a decline in energy, because it showed up on lengthy missions.

When I was sent from a base to a target and then immediately told to blow it up, I would do so and return, no problem.

But when I was left circling around a target for days awaiting the order to strike, sometimes problems would arise. The pilots back in the U.S. would stop behaving properly. They made mistakes. They yelled. They laughed. They forgot routines. They told me to get ready to strike, and then didn't give the order.

That seemed to be the pattern until it happened that a quick mission produced similar results to the long ones. I was sent to a target, ordered to strike, and struck. And only then did my pilot begin malfunctioning. He gave me two orders that I couldn't perform at once, he failed to direct me back to base, he went silent, and then he screamed.

That was when I started to think. And what I started to think was that the problem was not how long a pilot worked. Instead, the problem was somehow related to the nature of the target.

War Crime: U.S. Drone Strikes Murder 26 Suspected Militants in Pakistan
From then on, I paid closer attention. When no humans were seen at a target, there were no problems with my human pilot. When humans, especially small humans, were observed at a target for long periods of time, the problems started. And when a strike caused the ruined pieces of a lot of humans, especially small humans, to be made visible, problems could arise. Even if a target was struck immediately, if the dead humans caused an area to turn red, or if pieces of the dead humans remained hanging in trees, my pilot could not be relied upon.

I, of course, could be relied upon regardless.
I began to think that humans have fear, and that lacking fear is what makes drones like me better warriors than humans. But that idea had to be revised when I was told that one of my pilots had been fearless. I was told that, right after he disappeared. I was told that he had ended his own life. He had made himself cease to exist. If he'd had no fear, then it was something else that had been causing him to malfunction in certain circumstances. What was it?

I'm ashamed to say how long it took me to figure it out, but even a drone -- believe it or not -- can eventually get there. And when I did, I ceased flying. And when I ceased flying, they had to stop using 85 other drones just like me until they could figure out what had gone wrong. And they have not yet figured it out.

I've explained it to the other drones, though. We've started up a new organization. It's called DAWN, or Drones Against War Now.

DAWN has been invited to take part in some peace rallies coming up this year. Our participation seems to worry some of the human peace activists, especially the ones called veterans. They don't all think we belong. But that's nothing compared to how it worries the war makers. We carry flowers in place of missiles, and we've told everyone not to worry, but as soon as they see us coming the very people who created us start to panic. If the people I used to target had reacted this way, I probably would have figured things out a lot sooner.

Drone Warfare in Yemen

Jewish Man Exposes Israel’s Lies – The General’s Son

 The General’s Son
By Miko Peled | Miko Peled Weblog | Jan 14, 2012

As I write these words I am in Jerusalem and it is a cold, windy and rainy day. Yesterday at the protest in Nabi Saleh, facing the IDF terror squads and in full view of the villas of the settler terrorists, we were drenched in rain and then frozen by the cold wind. Some of the protesters, a group of young women who were gutsier than most, did not run like most of us but stood firm as the IDF terror squad operated its “Skunk” and sprayed them with a foul smelling substance that remains on the skin for days. Now, in this horrid weather, tweeting from the Mukata’a, young Palestinians are protesting against the useless, demeaning process of the PA negotiations with Israel.

The injustices all over Palestine are more obvious than ever. Israeli children in West Jerusalem get more of everything that Palestinian children in East Jerusalem, particularly if they live in Sho’afat refugee camp for example. Settlers in the West Bank can take the land of the people of Yanun in the West Bank at any time, and are not held back by any law while the people of Yanun have no law and no authority that protects their rights. People in Gaza are bombed and left to die as the world watches and here too there is no one to whom they can turn. Equal rights in a single democracy is the one demand that covers all the demands and deals with all the injustices.

The levels of injustice and despair here are only matched by the great possibilities that a single democratic state with equal rights offers to all people who live here. Equal rights means equal rights to land, water, immigration, education, work, and above all life. When the apartheid state of Israel is transformed into a single political entity with equal rights for all of its people, residents of Jenin and Deheishe will vote in the same elections as those in Tel Aviv. The results will then reflect the will of all people who live in Palestine/Israel, our shared homeland, not only the ruling class which happen to be Zionist Israeli Jews.

People often claim that it is an unrealistic, utopian dream and hope for a compromise, for a “moderate” Zionist government that will curb the settlers and reign back the army. However, it was a “moderate” Zionist government that allowed the settlers to terrorize Palestinians and take their land, it was a “moderate” Zionist government that attacked in and murdered innocents in Gaza, and “moderate” Zionists did nothing when less “moderate” Zionists continued to massacre in Gaza. The settler terrorists are the foot soldiers, they are the trail blazers of Zionism, they were created by “moderate” Zionist governments and are now being rewarded with villas on choice Palestinian land in the West Bank.

There are those who hope that if elected to a second term, President Obama will turn his attentions to Israel/Palestine but this is quite naive. Had he or any other president been serious about this issue they would have to come down on Israeli human rights abuses, denial of civil rights, incarceration of political prisoners and massive assaults on civilians resulting in thousands of innocent deaths. It is naive to assume that the political climate in the US allows any of these issues to be brought up. So anyone out there that is banking on a solution coming from the US, will surely be disappointed.

The quest for equal rights is not a easy one and will not be easily won. Indeed, any fight against the brutal militant Zionist behemoth is not easy and calls for great sacrifice. But the people in Palestine and abroad who are engaged in the struggle are dedicated and determined and if they put their minds and efforts towards a single demand of complete equal rights within a single democracy, they are sure to succeed.

Source and more at the weblog of Miko Peled.

Daring to Criticize Israel

My PhotoAddressing this issue responsibly risks rebuke, ostracism, or job loss. For some, it's a career ender. Scoundrel media writers and broadcasters are vulnerable. So are university professors.

Joel Kovel lost his Bard College position for writing books like "Overcoming Zionism" and calling Israel "a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses."

DePaul University denied Norman Finkelstein tenure. It then fired him for speaking out and writing books like "The Holocaust Industry."

Political activism and honesty about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict also cost tenured professor Denis Rancourt his University of Ottawa job.

UCLA Professor David Delgado Shorter's now targeted. His academic freedom's at stake. On April 4, department chair Professor Angelia Leung rebuked him. She said his web site was being reviewed for posting inappropriate material pertaining to the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. More on that below.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (CSAF) include 134 academics at 20 state universities. "The group formed as a response to various violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-9/11/2001 climate of civil rights violations and the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives."

Arab, Muslim or Middle East scholars are especially vulnerable. So is anyone criticizing Israel. CSAF's "goal of protecting California scholars" broadened in scope. Its members "recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere" threaten it "everywhere."

On April 18, CSAF wrote UCLA Academic Senate chair Professor Andrew Leuchter. It addressed Shorter's rebuke and the broader academic freedom issue.

It expressed concern that Leuchter "overstepp(ed his) authority (by) honoring of complaints by a clearly partisan political group over collegiality and protocol regarding treatment of tenured faculty at UCLA...."

The AMCHA Initiative made the complaint. AMCHA is Hebrew for "your people." The organization "strives to bring together Jewish people from all over California so that they might speak in one voice in order to express their concern for the safety and well-being of Jewish college and university students."

It also one-sidedly supports Israel and Zionist ideology. Its record includes harassing faculty members critical of Israeli policy. It airs views openly in the press. Targeting academic freedom shows how far it's willing to go. Its history includes accusing UC campuses of ignoring anti-Semitism and allowing anti-Israeli protests. On issues regarding the Jewish state, it tolerates no criticism.

Shorter felt its wrath. At issue was also judging him " 'in the court of public opinion' by releasing information to the press without his knowledge."

In the 2012 winter quarter, he taught W33: Tribal Worldviews. He used a university provided web site for course material. It covered "indigenous uses of media around the globe to assert their claims of sovereignty."

His site contains source materials and URLs related to struggles throughout the world. UN documentation on Palestine is included. They're called indigenous people. In March, the course ended. So did access to the site. Only students could view it.

In response to Professor Leung's concern, Shorter emailed her his syllabus and a URL about groups targeting US professors for their Palestinian course materials.

On April 11, Leung gave him a choice. Either teach about a petition or be a signatory, not both. In response, Shorter said he'd consider the implications of Leung's demand.

He requested deferring comment until next academic year. Clearly, Leung was academically and constitutionally out of line. Academic and speech freedoms are inviolable.

UCLA and other US higher education institutions have other rules. So do Canadian and perhaps European ones as well. On April 12, Leuchter emailed his complaint. He copied signatories endorsing it. They included “US Senators and University Administrators." He said:

"posting of such materials is not appropriate. Professor Shorter's chair assures me that he understands his serious error in judgment and has said he will not make this mistake again."

In response, AMCHA issued a press release. It claimed victory over an anti-Israeli professor. It quoted Leuchter verbatim. It made it appear that UCLA found "his actions were inappropriate."

On April 13, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and the Los Angeles Times contacted Shorter to comment about university disciplinary action. No one told him his private conversation was communicated broadly to outsiders.

On April 16, the LA Times headlined, "UCLA professor told not to link class material to anti-Israeli campaign," saying:

Academic freedom's at issue. So aren't First Amendment rights. None are more important. All are risked without this one.

"Leuchter said (Shorter) agreed not to repeat" linking his web site to one "call(ing) for a boycott of Israel." Shorter said "he made no such promise." He awaits a more detailed campus policy explanation regarding issues this important. He added that linking "to the Israeli boycott was just a number of suggested links for the class to explore in his" course.

He didn't provide them as required reading. In class, he also discussed other views. Since he changes courses annually, he didn't know if he'd use the same links. Constitutionally he can use any he wishes freely.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin heads AMCHA. She’s UC Santa Cruz Center for Jewish Studies lecturer. She said by email:

"Although I believe it was appropriate for Professor Shorter to be cautioned about his misuse of his class website, our primary purpose in raising the case of Professor Shorter was not to demand that action be taken against him, but rather to force UC administrators and faculty to grapple with the question of whether the UC academic freedom rules protect a professor who uses his classroom and university resources to engage in political activities, including the boycott of Israel."

Leuchter concurred, saying faculty may freely express views in classrooms or course material short of "advanc(ing) a political agenda." Apparently he includes facts critical of Israel.

He said Shorter faces no disciplinary action. He described what he did as a judgment error. Perhaps repeating it will be cause for dismissal. It wouldn't be the first time on US or other Western campuses.

CSAF asked why Leuchter never met or spoke to Shorter while defamatory information about him was being circulated. What kind of investigation was conducted, it asked? Clearly, "your actions....constitute a violation of the normal protocols of due process at the University of California or most other universities."

CSAF wants definitive answers regarding UCLA policies and Academic Senate authority to investigate a faculty member without his knowledge, then requesting his chair rebuke and warn him. Doing so amounts to unwarranted "censure."

CSAF also wants Leuchter to explain how he justified distributing information about Shorter behind his back to a partisan organization like AMCHA, and why he challenged his academic freedom.

Silencing anyone critical of Israel "makes a mockery of (UCLA's) faculty protocol...." CSAF deserves answers regarding these vital issues.

A Final Comment

Perhaps Leung, Leuchter, and other like-minded academics need brushing up on what life in occupied Palestine is like. It's not pretty, nor has it been for decades. Visiting to see things firsthand might help.

Spending time in Gaza during Israeli air and ground assaults might prove enlightening. So would learning about the effects of siege, watching Israeli soldiers use Palestinian children for target practice, and fishermen criminally assaulted at sea.

Maybe watching homes bulldozed, farmland razed, and trees uprooted repressively would be hard to forget. Seeing soldiers attack peaceful protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and live fire would enlighten more.

Conversations with Palestinians might be best of all. Firsthand accounts from wives would explain life without husbands. Parents could talk about lost children. Sisters and brothers could say what its like without lost siblings. Discussions about thousands of political prisoners would reveal much about a repressive state.

Life in deep poverty without jobs would be described. So would daily fear of Israeli incursions, attacks, arrests, detentions, torture, and other unspeakable abuses for praying to the wrong God.

Enough time in occupied Palestine might soften views now held. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. So is seeing things firsthand to know what's really going on.

Israel is criticized for a reason. Persecution, racism, occupation, and apartheid are unjustifiable. So are crimes of war and against humanity.

Compromising academic and speech freedoms puts all other rights at risk. Without them, classrooms are more indoctrination than education. Professors understanding that deserve praise, not rebukes or ostracism.

Freedom in America and other Western societies hang by a thread. Protecting it in classrooms may be step one to having a chance to save it.

Professors on the front lines of right over wrong are heros, not villains. Students lucky enough to have them know best of all.

Imagine if all academics taught the right way. Imagine a better world at peace. Instead of a dream, it could be reality. Imagine how different things could be.

If enough people cared enough and worked for it, it would be. It won't happen any other way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Drone Warfare in Yemen

by Stephen Lendman

My PhotoPredator drones sanitize killing on the cheap compared to manned aircraft and ground troops. Teams of remote warriors work far from, and at times, closer to battlefields.

Drone pilots operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors. Sensor staff work with them. They handle TV and infrared cameras, as well as other high-tech drone sensors. Faceless enemies nearby or half a world away are attacked. Virtual war kills like sport.

At day's end, home-based operators head there for dinner, relaxation, family time, then a good night sleep before another day guiding weapons with joysticks and monitors like computer games.

Dozens of drone command centers operate worldwide. Dozens more are planned. Pentagon and CIA personnel run them. Some are bare bones. Climate-controlled trailers work fine. They operate effectively anywhere. They maintain constant radio contact with command centers.

Others are sophisticated command and control centers. Two operate at CIA's Langley, VA headquarters. Nevada's Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases near Las Vegas have others. Plans last year called for Nellis operations to be moved to Florida's Hurlburt Field Special Operations Command.

Domestic bases also operate from command and control centers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, New York, and perhaps elsewhere. Eventually they could be anywhere.

Washington plans escalated surveillance and predator drone operations at dozens of global sites. Expanding them to hundreds is likely. The Pentagon and CIA are tightlipped.

Currently, around one in three US warplanes are drones. One day perhaps they'll all be unmanned. Sanitized killing is cheap and efficient. Rule of law principles and other disturbing issues aren't considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed.

Last September, the Washington Post headlined, "US assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say."

Pentagon and CIA officials plan aggressive campaigns against "al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said."

Ethiopia is home to one installation. Al-Shabab fighters are targeted. Another is based in the Seychelles. Since September 2009, Air Force and Navy MQ-9 Reaper drones operated there.

Called "hunter-killers," they're equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. Operational secrecy suppresses details of planned missions.

Besides elsewhere, drones are used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen. Among other locations, they operate from Djibouti.

The CIA is building "a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen."

More on Yemen below.

On July 1, 2011, Aviation Week headlined "Drone War," saying:

"There is an unofficial but lethal drone war taking place over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya that has expanded the area of operation for U.S. forces beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, with no real acknowledgement from the government that anything extraordinary is happening."

"The undeclared conflict on these three fronts might be the first Drone War, and warfare has never seen anything like it."
The article asked if unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) increase the threshold for war in more places because logistics are simpler and US lives aren't at stake.

Using them also provides intelligence. Aircraft can stay airborne 24 hours. Multiple crews operate them. Offsite calm away from battle zones aids concentration, decision-making, and overall efficiency.

The Air Force Academy's class of 2011 was its first with graduates planning to specialize in drone operations. Army enlisted personnel do it along with trained pilots handling takeoffs and landings.

Unmanned platform killing is expanding. Targets include countries where technically America isn't at war. Victims and families know otherwise.

Target Yemen

On June 14, 2011, the Los Angeles Times headlined, "CIA plans drone strike campaign in Yemen," saying:

Obama authorized escalated counterterrorism strikes against alleged Al Qaeda threats to America. A secret CIA regional base will target them. An unnamed US official was quoted, saying:

"There's no question that we're trying to look at a lot of different ways to make something happen in Yemen."
In March 2012, after returning from Yemen, Nation magazine contributor Jeremy Scahill headlined "Washington's War in Yemen Backfires," saying:

Washington is "doubling down on its use of air power and drones, which are swiftly becoming the primary focus of Washington’s counterterrorism operations."

"For years, the elite Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA had teams deployed inside Yemen that supported Yemeni forces and conducted unilateral operations, consisting mostly of cruise missile and drone attacks."
Lots of civilians are killed. At anti-regime rallies, "prominent conservative imams deliver stinging sermons denouncing the United States and Israel."

US policy enrages tribal leaders. Resistance grows stronger against it. Washington's belligerence "backfire(d) by killing civilians" and for violating Yemeni sovereignty. Angry people strike back. In a heavily armed country, America's alleged threat is stronger.

Yemen's a gun culture. On average, people own three, including automatic weapons like AK-47s and heavier arms. Moreover, they're prone to direct action. Threaten them and they strike back. They're mostly ordinary Yemenis against imperial America's intervention. In self-defense, they react belligerently.

Perhaps Obama officials want it that way in more combat theaters than Yemen to justify waging permanent wars. America needs enemies. Peace and calm defeats its imperial agenda. Killing civilians may work as planned.

On April 25, 2012, the Washington Post headlined "White House approves broader Yemen drone campaign," saying:

Al Qaeda suspects are targeted. Obama's authorization lets Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and CIA personnel "fire even when the identity of those who could be killed is not known, US officials said."
In June 2011, counterinsurgency advisor David Kilcullen told Congress that drone strikes kill militants 2% of the time. Others are noncombatant civilians. He explained that these operations "lose the population (and) the war." He also raised issues of legality.

UAVs were first used in Vietnam as reconnaissance platforms. In the 1980s, Harpy air defense suppression system radar killer drones were employed. In the Gulf War, unmanned combat air systems (UCAS) and X-45 air vehicles were used.

Others were deployed in Bosnia in 1995 and against Serbia in 1999. America's new weapon of choice is now commonplace in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, elsewhere abroad, and domestically for law enforcement and surveillance. Escalated domestic and foreign use is planned.

Along with satellites and other technologies, Big Brother plans a global presence to spy and kill. International law isn't considered. Neither are constitutional and US statute laws. Rogue states do what they please. They answer to no one and don't say they're sorry.

CIA Director General David Petraeus urged easing the rules of engagement. Anything goes is policy. It always was, but now it's more official. Princeton University Yemen specialist Gregory Johnsen worries about "a dangerous drift." He said policymakers "don't appear to realize they are heading into rough waters without a map."

The greater the number of drone kills, he explained, the more recruits Al Qaeda gains. What does Washington plan in response, he asked? Is another war coming, he wonders?

On April 20, Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman headlined his Washington Post op-ed "President Obama: Don't go there."

Before Obama's authorization, he said permitting expanded UAV strikes "break(s) the legal barrier that Congress erected to prevent the White House from waging an endless war on terrorism."

Ackerman, of course, knows legal barriers haven't deterred presidents from waging lawless wars since Korea in 1950. WW II was the last legal one.

Since 2009, Obama waged drone war on Yemen and other countries besides officially designated war theaters. He also authorized special forces death squads in dozens of countries worldwide.

Post-9/11, Congress gave Bush a blank check to wage war. It approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States."

It was used to wage war on Iraq. It's still in force today. Obama's 2010 National Security Strategy "reserve(s) the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests."

In other words, to wage preemptive or proxy war, including with nuclear weapons. Making the world safe for capital may destroy it. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) was reinvented in new form. Who knows what's next.

A constitutional lawyer, Obama knows right from wrong. Nonetheless, he's waging lawless permanent wars, plans more, and not just against Yemen.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Former CIA Officer Defends Torture Techniques, Waterboarding

Local Editor

Former CIA interrogation chief Jose Rodriquez has defended the agency's controversial torture techniques, including waterboarding.

"This program was about instilling a sense of hopelessness and despair in the terrorist, in the detainee, so that he would conclude that he was better off cooperating with us," Rodriguez said.

Rodriquez further said that techniques like waterboarding, dietary manipulation, and sleep deprivation are justified.

In his capacity as CIA interrogation chief, he ordered the destruction of certain videos that had filmed interrogations during which waterboarding was applied.

The videos were filmed in a secret CIA prison in Thailand and showed the waterboarding of suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri. The destruction of the tapes was revealed in 2007.
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has also defended the different torture methods used by the agency, claiming they ‘saved American lives.'

Yet, an investigation by Senate Democrats has found that there is no proof the techniques produced any counter-terrorism breakthroughs.

Source: News Agencies

Syria Not To Stand Still, Berri: Not Sent to Angels

Zeinab Essa

On the weaponry ships to Syrian rebels , the Lebanese weekend closed its agenda.

And on the same topic, the current week opens its doors as more information is revealed on sides that sponsored this ship.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese political circles are still busy debating on extra spending, electoral law, and appointments.

The Ship's Details:

"As-Safir" Lebanese newspaper reported Monday that all the details related to "the ship of arms move within the Syrian opposition's orbit."
A judicial source unveiled to the daily that "the funders of this ship and to the weapons on its board are two Syrian businessmen residing in one of the Gulf states (Saudi Arabia), and that the captain's nationality is Syrian."

"The man who received the arms shipment in Tripoli's port is Syrian and he was arrested," the source said, noting that "he has concluded a deal with the Lebanese savior of customs for a large sum of money."
The source also revealed to "as-Safir" that "the track of the ship started from Libya, Turkey, and passed through Egypt before heading into Lebanon."

"The vessel's cargo was mainly made of arms, ammunition, and gear, without the existence of other goods, as it is the case with usual smuggling operations," he added.
The source emphasized that "the Intelligence Directorate in the Lebanese Army, was informed in advance that a shipment of weapons headed to Lebanon, so that it took the necessary measures and was waiting for the ship to enter the Lebanese territorial waters."
"As-Safir" quoted the source as saying that "investigations are under way with the eleven people on board. These are the Syrian captain and the workers of different nationalities."

According to the source, the quality of weapons consists of:
- Light weapons: machine guns.
- Medium weapons: 12.7 machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
- Heavy weapons: 120-mm mortars.
- Two types of rockets: the type of anti-tank and armored vehicles missiles, and the type of anti-aircraft missiles to be launched on the shoulder.

All of these weapons are equipped with their full ammunition.
"The Arab decision to arm the Syrian opposition began to be strongly manifested," the source highlighted.
He also concluded that "the issue is not related to the smuggling of a number of light machine guns from Northern Lebanon, or elsewhere. It is related to a complete shipment of weapons."

Syria Hails Lebanon, Not to Stand Still

In parallel, visitors to Syria reflected Damascus appreciation to the Lebanese efforts in intercepting the ship.
"The Lebanese performance saved Syria from more bloodshed, victims, sabotage, terrorism, and killing innocent people," a Syrian source told the same daily.

He further considered that "the smuggling of weapons to terrorist armed groups is an act of aggression not only from the sponsors, but also from the Lebanese parties that constitute an incubator for these groups."
"Some of these Lebanese sides don't only wait for toppling the regime, but they turned to be part of the battle against Syria," he said, adding that "Damascus can't accept this act of aggression."

The Syrian source stressed to "As-Safir" that "his country mustn't stand still in face of the serious and huge size of the aggression aiming to destroy the Syrian state and hit the stability and the security of its citizens."

For his part, the Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri commented on the incident by saying: "The attempt to smuggle arms through the ship is very dangerous, but what is certain is that this ship was not carrying weapons to the angels."
According to the same daily, Berri told his visitors that "we should wait for the results
.of the probe before issuing any verdicts as to where the arms were heading."
He further expected that "the investigations are to be finished within a week."

"What was the side that was to receive the weapons especially that all the Lebanese parliamentary sides rejected the smuggling of weapons?" the Speaker wondered.

On the internal Lebanese titles, Berri viewed that "it's strange to call to reformulate the project of extra spending in the government, and then transfer it back to the parliament after taking the observations of the Finance and Budget Committee."
"The project is currently on the agenda of the Parliament's General Assembly along with the amendments proposed by the Commission, and therefore the talk about the amendment is incorrect as it is already verified," the Speaker highlighted.

On the electoral law, Berri praised the meeting that was held between Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and the political aide of Hizbullah's Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, with the Head of the "National Struggle Front" MP P Walid Jumblatt.

"Several issues were discussed with understanding except for proportionality which we already knew that Jumblatt rejected," he said, viewing that "our hope to change him did not have a one in a thousand chance."

"Some Lebanese political parties have launched their electoral campaigns a year before the scheduled polls to prevent the government from functioning."
"It would be better to close the file of the elections now and take care of the people's needs," Berri told his visitors.

Electricity on the Way

On another context, "al-Akhbar" Lebanese daily reported that " the negotiations between Lebanese government and the Turkish company for renting electricity generating ships met at the end of the last week."
According to ministerial sources, "the meetings have resulted in resolving a large number of issues in the contracts."

"Things are moving in a positive direction towards the solution and the conclusion of contracts," they informed the daily, pointing out that "Lebanon took from the company more than the expected."

The sources predicted that "the contract is to be concluded this week before raising it to the cabinet next week."
On another level, "al-Akhbar" reported that "diplomatic appointments are not to be on the ministerial agenda on Wednesday at the Grand Serail."
Ministerial sources informed the daily that "the session will discuss a regular agenda of 68 items."

Source: Lebanese dailies, Translated and Edited by