Daily TIP

Hezbollah ally elected president of Lebanon, immediately threatens Israel

Posted by Tip Staff - October 31, 2016


Lebanon’s parliament elected an ally of the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah as the country’s president on Monday, who immediately threatened Israel in his inaugural address. Michel Aoun, the new president, is a staunch supporter of Hezbollah and its intervention in the Syrian civil war to prop up Bashar al-Assad, the murderous dictator of that country. Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, wrote, “Aoun’s election is a clear victory for the pro-Iranian axis in the Levant.”
Indeed, Ali Akbar Velayati, a close advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told the semi-official Iranian Tasnim news agency that Aoun’s election was “a great triumph for the Islamic Resistance movement in Lebanon [Hezbollah] and for Iran’s allies and friends”; it was “a remarkable achievement for Lebanon’s Hezbollah,” which has backed Aoun’s bid for the presidency and had systematically obstructed Lebanon’s political system to prevent anyone else from attaining the presidency. Before Aoun’s election on Monday, Lebanon had lacked a president since May 2014. Al-Watan, a pro-Assad newspaper in Syria, crowed, “The resistance axis has won.” The Washington Post reported that Aoun’s electoral victory “gives the powerful Iranian-backed militia [Hezbollah] even wider clout in Lebanese affairs.” Benedetta Berti, an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said, “With this election...you can see Hezbollah consolidated in terms of its political allies as well as its position in Lebanon.”
Aoun vowed on Monday to “liberate the remainder of our lands” under Israeli occupation. However, Israel completed its withdrawal from Lebanese territory, which it occupied after the 1982 Lebanon War, in May 2000. The total withdrawal was recognized by the United Nations Security Council in June of that year; Aoun’s reference is to an area called Shebaa Farms, known as Mount Dov in Israel, which was captured by Israel in 1967 from Syria and had never been considered part of Lebanon. (The UN concluded that there is no evidence to support Lebanese claims to the territory after studying 81 different maps, according to a UN envoy.)
While the position of Lebanese president is typically largely ceremonial, this will not necessarily be the case with Aoun, because he enjoys “a solid parliamentary bloc, strong support coming from Hezbollah and Iran, and quite a lot of leverage over the military situation in the country,” Dr. Imad Salamey, a professor of political science at Lebanese American University, told The Daily Beast. Michel Aoun received 83 of 127 parliamentary votes cast.
The 81-year-old Aoun, a former general, was an army commander and warlord during Lebanon’s bloody civil war. Forces fighting under his command attempted to drive then-occupying Syrian forces out of Lebanon. Holed up in the Baabda presidential palace overlooking Beirut, Aoun fled to France in 1990 when the Syrian Air Force bombarded the palace, not returning to Lebanon until 2005. The next year he visited Damascus to reconcile with the Syrian government and formed an alliance with Hezbollah.

Capping off a year of globe-trotting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has planned a multi-stop tour of the Eastern Hemisphere in the next three months, with visits to Australia, Singapore and Kazakhstan, all of which have never before been visited by an Israeli prime minister. He will also visit Azerbaijan, where he once made a stop in 1997 during a previous term as prime minister. Israel buys most of its oil from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
“Israel’s international relations are spreading in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and many other places,” said Netanyahu in remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “We realize that this development flows from Israel’s technological and economic strength on one hand, and its security and intelligence capabilities on the other.”
Netanyahu is also planning a trip to Togo in Spring 2017 to attend a summit with West African nations—an extension of Israel’s intensive diplomatic efforts with African countries this year. He convened a summit with at least 15 leaders and representatives of African nations at the UN in September, and visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia this summer. The Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.
The visit to Singapore is a reciprocal call after its Prime Minister visited Israel in April 2016.

Two men from the Los Angeles area have been charged with attempting to smuggle military plane parts to Iran, the Justice Department announced on Friday.
Zavik Zargarian and Vache Nayirian were arrested on Wednesday morning over their suspected roles in “a scheme to smuggle millions of dollars’ worth of military aircraft parts and other potential defense items to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR),” the department said in a statement.Among the items that the two attempted to ship to Iran were fluorocarbon rubber O-rings, which “have a variety of possible military applications, including use in aircraft hydraulic systems and landing gear.”
According to guidelines, Zargarian could be sentenced to 115 years in federal prison and a $4,770,000 fine. Nayirian could be imprisoned for up to 95 years and face a fine of $3,770,000.
“Our commitment to prosecuting individuals who engage in the unlawful proliferation and export of items with military applications remains steadfast,” said Mary B. McCord, acting assistant attorney general for national security. “The actions announced today are part of our ongoing effort to enforce export laws that continue to play a critical role in maintaining and protecting U.S. national security.”

The village of Arraba, to the north of Nazareth, may look like just another quiet community in the Lower Galilee. But take a closer look at the 24,000 residents and you’ll notice a lot of them preface their names with the title “Dr.” Arraba (also transliterated as Arrabeh) boasts one of the highest numbers of doctors per capita in the world. The Israeli Arab community has more than six doctors per thousand inhabitants, according to a 2015 report by community activist Makbula Nassar, a journalist and presenter of current affairs programs. By comparison, Israel as a whole has 3.4 physicians per 1,000 residents and the OECD average is 3.3 doctors per 1,000 people. But Nassar says that what’s even more astonishing about this village is the number of new medical graduates it produces every year. Israel has about five medical graduates per 100,000 people, according to a 2013 OECD report. The average was 11.5 new medical graduates per 100,000 across OECD countries, according to the same report. This proportion was highest in Ireland – with 20.3 medical graduates per 100,000 people — whereas Israel (5:100,000) and Japan (6:100,000) had the lowest number of new medical graduates relative to their population. (via Israel21c)

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