Friday, November 30, 2018

Video: Robert Spencer on the migrant crisis and its national security implications

Video: Robert Spencer on the migrant crisis and its national security implications

Last night I appeared on the Rory Sauter Show discussing the migrant crisis and its national security implications.

UANI Resource: Perspectives on Lebanon and Hezbollah

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 Perspectives: Lebanon and Hezbollah 

November 30, 2018

Perspectives: Lebanon and Hezbollah is a UANI weekly resource highlighting developments in Lebanon and the activities of the terrorist group Hezbollah.  

Hezbollah and Israel

Israel Reportedly Strikes Hezbollah Targets in Syria
The Israeli Air Force reportedly struck Hezbollah targets during an hour-long aerial assault on several positions in Syria on Thursday. Syrian Step News Agency claimed that Israeli jets bombed a Hezbollah position in the course of airstrikes on al-Kiswah, south of Damascus. Earlier reports, including by the BBC, have indicated that Iran was establishing a permanent military presence in al-Kiswah. Additionally, according to Sputnik News Agency, sounds of explosions from the Israeli strikes were heard near al-Dimas, west of Damascus, on the Beirut-Damascus Highway. While Sputnik's reports are usually heavily laden with Russian government propaganda, this particular claim seems to be credible, given Hezbollah's usage of the Highway to transfer weapons to its strongholds in Lebanon. It's likely that the explosion heard near al-Dimas resulted from an Israeli strike on such a weapons convoy or shipment.

Israel Conducts Training Exercise Simulating War with Hezbollah and Hamas
Israeli forces began a large-scale military exercise this week simulating a two-front conflict against Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Admits to Sinking Lebanese Civilian Ship During First Lebanon War
In an investigative report broadcast by Channel 10, Israel admitted its responsibility for sinking a ship carrying refugees escaping war-torn Lebanon in 1982. According to the report, during the course of "Operation Dreyfus," an Israeli Navy submarine positioned off the coast of Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli mistakenly fired two torpedoes on the civilian ship carrying the refugees, killing 25 individuals. In the wake of the revelation, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying the possibility that the attack was the result of an Israeli error in judgment, calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israel.

Hezbollah Transnationally

Hezbollah-Linked Lebanese Businessman Sentenced to Prison in Paris Drug Trial
Mohammad Noureddine, a 44-year-old businessman with interests in real estate and jewelry, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison by a Paris court. The court convicted Noureddine of leading a crime-ring that laundered Colombian drug money through luxury jewelry. Another key figure in the case, Abbas Nasser, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

Lebanon Offers Counterterrorism Expertise to African Countries
Abbas Ibrahim, the director of Lebanon's General Directorate of General Security (GDGS), in a speech this week to African representatives to a counter-terrorism conference held in Lebanon, offered his country's counterterrorism expertise. Ibrahim said he placed the GDGS's administrative services and its expertise, as well as his own personal services and expertise, at the disposal of any African country in need. Ibrahim's speech, however, included an implicit endorsement of Hezbollah's form of terrorism. Al-Liwaa reported Ibrahim saying, "there are two forms of terrorism: one in which you terrorize your enemies, and this is not only your right, but your obligation. Another is one in which you terrorize innocent people, and this is the lowest form of moral and ideological decline. We support the first kind of terrorism, we support resisting any enemy no matter where they are found, whomever tries to subjugate Lebanon or the Lebanese people, and this is an honor we take upon ourselves. We support our resistance and this form of our terrorism. Name it whatever you wish, it is a source of pride for us."

Government Formation

No Solution to Government Formation Impasse on the Horizon
There were no indications this week that a solution to the government formation impasse, caused by the question of representation of the so-called "Independent Sunnis," - part of the Hezbollah-aligned, anti-Hariri "March 8" Alliance - in Prime Minister Hariri's government was on the horizon. And neither Prime Minister Saad Hariri nor President Michel Aoun appear to be in the mood to compromise. Sources within the March 8-Sunni "bloc" said they didn't expect a solution to the impasse anytime soon. Other informed sources told Al-Joumhouria that no solution to the government formation impasse was on the horizon, given that Hariri is completely refusing to include a March 8 Sunni in his government at all - whether they take a seat from his earmarked portion or anyone else's - because he refuses to grant Hezbollah another ministry through a belatedly contrived bloc.

Future Movement Reiterates Premier's Refusal
Hariri's Future Movement reiterated the premier's refusal to contemplate representing the March 8 Sunnis in his government, and dismissed the idea that he might meet with them. Meanwhile, the March 8 Sunnis gave Hariri a 48-hour deadline on Sunday to set a time to meet with them. After that deadline passed without a response from Hariri, Faisal Karameh of the "Independent Sunnis" said he was giving the premier another chance to meet with them. Karameh added that his "bloc" was now demanding not only a seat in Hariri's cabinet, but a Ministry with a portfolio. Hariri remained defiant in response, saying he would not change his stance. His Future Movement said not a single MP from the "Independent Sunnis" would set foot in Hariri's Bayt al-Wasat compound.

President Aoun Responds to Impasse
Sources close to President Michel Aoun said that he thinks all sides need to compromise to solve the government formation impasse. However, the president does not want the solution to be at his own expense, and he is therefore unwilling to make any more compromises. On the other hand, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told Al-Joumhouria he believes that, "logically, the president holds the key to the solution," and that the concerned parties - Hezbollah and the "Independent Sunnis" - were not going to back down. He added that he encouraged Hariri to pick one of the March 8 Sunnis and solve the impasse. Berri noted later in the week that he could not predict when a government would be formed.

Hezbollah Doubles Down on Representation of March 8 Sunnis "No Matter How Long it Takes"
Senior Hezbollah officials doubled down this week on their demand that the pro-Hezbollah March 8 Sunnis be given a ministry in Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government. Hezbollah's Sheikh Nabil Qaouq - a senior party leader and a member of its Central Council - said that the crisis preventing the formation of a new government would continue so long as Hariri did not acquiesce to granting the pro-Hezbollah Sunnis a seat in his cabinet. The head of Hezbollah's "Loyalty to the Resistance" parliamentary bloc Mohammad Raad denied both his party's 
responsibility for creating the "Sunni impasse," and even that Hezbollah was a party to the crisis. Raad also said that Hezbollah has no problem waiting indefinitely for the formation of a government, until their demands are met, Al-Manar reported. "We are the masters of waiting. We've been waiting for 1300 years for the Mahdi to appear. They tried us when it came to the presidency," he said, referring to Hezbollah's prevention of a Lebanese president for more than two years until their choice - Michel Aoun - was agreed upon. 

Sources within Hezbollah's leadership told Al-Joumhouria that Prime Minister Hariri alone holds the solution to the impasse. The sources added that, "in the end, [the March 8 Sunnis] will be represented in the government," regardless of the ferocity of opposition. Hezbollah also remained committed to not submitting the names of its Minister to Hariri until the latter solved the issue of "Independent Sunni" representation. The party added, however, that they would accept a compromise solution of giving a portfolio to a Sunni from outside of the "Independent Sunnis" bloc, as long as the group accepted that solution.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Rifi - Lebanon's former Justice Minister and a Hariri-ally-turned-rival - stressed his complete support for Hariri in confronting what he called "Hezbollah's project and conditions." The pro-March 8 Najib Miqati also came to Hariri's defense, reiterating his earlier opposition to anyone interfering with the prime minister's constitutional prerogatives.

Geagea: Form a Government Without Hezbollah
Lebanese Forces party's chairman Samir Geagea called on President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri to swear in a government without Hezbollah or the Amal Movement - which, alone, have yet to submit the names of their ministers. Lebanese Forces MP Joseph Ishaq seconded Geagea's sentiment, calling on Aoun and Hariri to form a government without Hezbollah.

Lebanese Foreign Relations

Nizar Zakka Calls Lebanese Officials on Independence Day
Nizar Zakka - a Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges since 2015 - phoned the offices of senior Lebanese officials on Lebanon's Independence Day. According to Al-Joumhouria, Zakka managed to call the offices of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Parliament, asking all three to intercede on his behalf and secure his release from prison in Iran.

New Saudi Ambassador Arrives in Lebanon
Saudi Arabia's newly appointed ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Abdullah al-Bukhari, arrived in Beirut on Thursday to assume his post. 

Lebanon-Russia Military Deal
A high-ranking Lebanese political source told Reuters that, this month, Beirut had rejected a long-standing military grant from Russia, claiming the U.S. pressured Lebanon to do so.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri's media office issued a statement denying that Lebanon had rejected the Russian military aid, saying that Moscow's military package would be used to support Lebanon's Internal Security Forces.

U.S. CENTCOM Commander to Arrive in Lebanon
Diplomatic sources told Al-Joumhouria that U.S. CENTCOM Commander General Joseph Votel was scheduled to arrive in Beirut today, accompanied by one of his aides, and would meet with high-ranking Lebanese officials. General Votel is expected to discuss regional security matters and continued US military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces with Lebanese officials. Votel arrives less than a week after a visit by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Levant Joel Rayburn. During that visit, Rayburn warned against giving Hezbollah "any additional political gains," saying it could affect U.S. military aid to Lebanon, or support to Lebanon via the CEDRE conference.

Lebanese Security

Interior Minister: Lebanon's Security Situation is Excellent
Lebanon's caretaker Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said in a press conference that "Lebanon is enjoying an unparalleled state of security. We are currently living a security and social success story that must be studied by others." Machnouk attributed Lebanon's positive security situation to President Michel Aoun's commitment to fighting terrorism, and to "national cohesiveness."

Lebanon Foils Attempt to Smuggle Drugs to Saudi Arabia via Hariri International Airport
Al-Joumhouria reported that, last Thursday, Lebanese security officials from the ISF succeeded in foiling an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of drugs from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia via Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport.

Lebanese Army Detains Hundreds of Syrians in Raids on Eastern Bekaa Refugee Camps
The Lebanese army detained 400 Syrians in raids on refugee camps in the eastern Bekaa Valley, mostly for overstaying the period permitted by their residency permits.

Hezbollah Domestically

Naim Qassem: U.S. Can't Force Iran to Change
Hezbollah's Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem said that the United States was powerless to change Iran's actions. He also said that U.S. sanctions would fail to curb Iran's support for the "resistance."
Protests Erupt in Lebanon Over Insulting Remarks Against Hariri
Several roads were blocked in Lebanon's capital of Beirut starting on Tuesday in protest against insulting remarks by ex-MP Wiam Wahhab against Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Wahhab, who has a reputation as an agitator, lashed out repeatedly, saying among other things that the premier would not have been appointed "as a building janitor" had his father not been the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Two days later, a video leaked of Wahhab insulting Saad Hariri's father.

On Thursday, Wahhab apologized for the video, but said it was a rash response to street banners that surfaced in Sunni strongholds Beirut and Tripoli attacking Wahhab. However, he added that he was filing a lawsuit against Saad Hariri and "his aides" over the banners, claiming they contained death threats against him. However, a group of lawyers hit back against Wahhab, filing a criminal complaint accusing him of "incitement and agitating against domestic peace."

Wahhab was not alone in attacking Hariri. MPs close to Hezbollah - including party member Hassan Fadlallah and pro-Hezbollah Sunni al-Walid Sukkariyeh - also lashed out against Hariri in recent days. The verbal attacks on Hariri also extended to his late father, with two Hezbollah MPs and Sukkariyeh attacking Rafic Hariri's economic policies.

Hariri's Future Movement hit back, accusing Hezbollah of launching a "hate campaign" against the prime minister, urging the Shiite party to "watch the tongue of its allies." Future also denied responsibility for the street protests, and called on party supporters to clear the streets.

Several March 14-aligned politicians have come out in support of Hariri, including Walid Joumblatt and Lebanese Forces Chairman Samir Geagea. Geagea said that the real target of the attacks was not Saad or Rafic Hariri, but the Lebanese state itself. Ashraf Rifi also came out in support of Hariri, saying "the insults against the martyred Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and his family, and against Said Hariri, is criminal behavior of the same type that physically murdered the martyr [Rafic Hariri], and now haunts his family with character assassination."

Despite its MPs being involved in the attacks on Hariri, Hezbollah has denied any responsibility for the defamation campaign, and claimed that "despite the Future Movement's campaigns against us, Hezbollah still wants Hariri as Prime Minister." 

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

CBC want's us extinct

Why is the CBC telling Canadians to have fewer children to reduce our carbon footprint, while at the same time advocating for increased immigration to make up for declining birth rates?

If having fewer people in Canada is good for the environment, why bring approximately 1 million new people each year?