Estimation: 2014 – Year of turnarounds in the Middle East (Part 1)


Will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani at the World Economic Forum in Davos? (World Economic Forum)

Indications of new settlements for the Middle East are peeking around the corner. From our point of view those potential developments are logic, because everything else would bring about chaos over the whole region. Chaos that could easily spread like wildfire and get out of hand. No major player can afford that.

Hawks can make decisions
On January 17, 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, citing Canadian CTV News, he would consider meeting Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani if the latter recognized Israel´s right of existence.

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Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon

chemattackPeople on the floor after an alleged gas attack by the Syrian government. (Al Jazeera)

Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 3 (final)

Today, Sunnites in Lebanon still have no forceful leader with a military background, who could inspire them in a region, where political parties often run militias to promote their cause.

Among the few cards, Lebanese Sunnites could play against Hezbollah, would be an external Sunnite militant leader to take up arms successfully against the Shiite party. But such a man is not in sight.

The last ambitious figure, Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, was chased away in June in a  combined operation of the Lebanese army and – most likely – Hezbollah.

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Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon

tripoliMen are trying to extinguish fires after the explosion in Tripoli. (Euronews)

Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 2

Hezbollah, rebels or a third party?
The double car bombing in Tripoli might well be the work of Syrian rebels or their Lebanese sympathizers. Though, in Lebanon many national and international players have plenty of reasons on a daily base to go after on another.

We think, Hezbollah does not need to show its strength, and surely it is not served well with an angry Sunnite community at home, consequently playing into the hands of an alleged Sunnite militant strategy mentioned in the first part of this estimation.

Retaliation into no man´s land
The morning before the deadly car bombing in Tripoli, Israel did attack a target in Naameh, south of Beirut, with an retaliatory air strike. In the evening before, four rockets had been fired from Lebanon towards Israel without causing damage.

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Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon

assir            Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir in a press conference before his escape. (MTV)

Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 1

Fears of escalating violence are rising in the Levant, after three car bombs struck Lebanon, the tiny neighbour of Israel and Syria, in just one week. Will that change the current situation in Lebanon basically? We don´t think so –  but several other factors could.

Car bombings in Beirut and Tripoli
Thursday, August 15, a car bomb went off in the Beirut neighbourhood of Dahiyeh, a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite organisation Hezbollah. At least 24 people were killed and more than 120 wounded. The perpetrators remain at large, though the basic and most rational assumption is, Syria-related Sunni extremists are responsible.

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Report: Saudis buying Balkan arms for Syrian rebels

Report: Saudis buying Balkan arms for Syrian rebels (AFP/Daily Star)

Background: Weapons trade between the Balkans and the Middle East is established since long. After the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) large contingents were sold to former Yugoslavia.

Lebanese Forces (LF) tanks and armoured personnel carriers displaying the party’s cross could be seen on CNN during the time of the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s.

LEBANON – Huge deployment of security forces around French embassy in case of Georges Abdallah

Beirut (11:38) Huge deployment of security forces around the French embassy for fears of demonstrations after a likely postponement of the deportation from France of jailed Lebanese national Georges Abdallah. (Lebanese media)

UPDATE (17:04) France has delayed the release of Georges Abdallah until the end of the month. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told the French envoy in Beirut such a step was not justified.

Demonstrators are currently blocking the road leading to the French embassy in Mathaf, protesting the postponement of Abdallah’s release. (Daily Star/Lebanese media)

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LEBANON/SYRIA LBC: Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing hard living in Chouf

The Lebanese television station LBC reports that Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing a hard living in the Chouf district.

Yesterday, former residents of the embattled Damascus “Yarmouk” Palestinian refugee camp staged a protest in Taalabaya, Lebanon, outside the Palestinian cultural center to bring attention to their cause.

They called upon the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Higher Relief Commission, asking for food and shelter.

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LEBANON – Investigation ordered into business of brother of Hezbollah Minister

General Prosecutor Judge Hatem Madi has ordered an investigation into the business of Abdul Latif Fneish and Fouad Ahmed Wehbe who both may be involved in a counterfeit medicine scandal. A search warrant has been issued. (An-Nahar/Lebanese media)

Background: Abdul Latif Fneish is the brother of Mohammad Fneish, a state minister in the current government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in which Mohammad Fneish represents the Shiite Hezbollah organisation.

Since some time rumours are circulating that involve Hezbollah or people close to the organisation in the production or trafficking of fake drugs.

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LEBANON – Newspaper: At least 18 Lebanese influential figures threatened by assassination

Citing “Al-Joumhouria” daily, the “An-Nahar” newspaper writes that at least 18 Lebanese influential figures are threatened by assassination, almost all of them exclusively belonging to the March 14 political opposition bloc.

A western diplomatic sources speaking on conditions of anonymity told the daily that among those monitored by potential killers are Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Christian MP Boutros Harb, Christian former Minster of Defense Elias al-Murr, Future party (Hariri) Sunnite former Prime Minister and now MP Fouad Siniora, Sunnite director of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) Ashraf Rifi and Christian March 14 Secretary General Fares Souaid as well as a range of Future (Hariri) MP’s.

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