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Israel Attacks Southern Lebanon After Hezbollah Targets Army Convoy

Israel Attacks Southern Lebanon After Hezbollah Targets Army Convoy

alakhbar

A Lebanese army soldier uses his binoculars as smoke from Israeli shelling covers the Lebanese town of al-Majidiyeh on the Lebanese border with Israel in the Wazzani area on January 28, 2015. AFP/Ali Dia

Updated at 3:27 pm (GMT+2): Israel hit Lebanon with a number of rockets after an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) convoy near the Lebanon border on Wednesday.

The Israeli army said on its Twitter feed that an “initial reports indicate a military vehicle was hit, apparently by an anti-tank missile in the area of Har Dov,” using Israel’s term for the Shebaa Farms which is also close to the ceasefire line with Syria.

Click here to follow Al-Akhbar English‘s live blog of the situation.

IOF spokesman Peter Lerner confirmed on Twitter that there were “casualties” on the Israeli side, without expanding on whether soldiers were killed or wounded.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement claimed the attack.

“At 11:25 (0925 GMT) this morning, the Quneitra martyrs of the Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms composed of several vehicles which was transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers,” Hezbollah said in a statement broadcast on the group’s Al-Manar television channel

Al-Manar said nine Israeli vehicles were targeted in the attack. Al-Mayadeen news channel’s Director Ghassan Ben Jeddo, said at least 15 Israeli soldiers have been killed.

There were conflicting reports on whether an Israeli soldier was abducted during the attack. Al-Akhbar English could not independently confirm the information at this time.

The Shebaa Farms area is a mountainous, narrow sliver of land rich in water resources measuring 25 square kilometers (10 square miles). It has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.

An Israeli security source, meanwhile, said a number of people were wounded in the incident after their vehicles came under “very heavy fire at close range,” saying the incident was still ongoing.

He said it was not clear whether the vehicles had been hit by an anti-tank missile, a rocket or a mortar, but said Israeli forces had returned fire, hitting targets across the border.

Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post said the Israeli army fired at the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Shouba.

Two sources told AFP that more than a dozen shells had been fired on Lebanese border villages and that Israeli warplanes were flying over the area.

A spokesperson for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which monitors the Lebanese-Israeli border, reported that one of its soldiers, a Spanish citizen, was killed after sustaining serious wounds by Israeli shelling in the border village of Abbasieh.

“At least 15 shells have been fired against five villages in the south,” one security source said, adding that the village of Majidiyeh was hardest hit.

Another security source said the Israeli army was firing a new shell into the area about every two minutes, and was also firing artillery.

The Lebanese army is deployed in all five villages that were shelled, but it was unclear whether Hezbollah had a presence there.

Al-Mayadeen said the Israeli strikes were ongoing.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that mortar shells had hit the village of Ghajar, which straddles the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Images broadcast from the scene showed large plumes of white smoke billowing across the area and police sealed off several roads close to the border in northern Israel.

Political responses

UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said the head of UNIFIL was in close contact with all parties and had urged “maximum restraint” to prevent an escalation.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to act “with force” following the border attack.

Referring to the bloody Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip this summer, Netanyahu added: “I suggest that all those who are challenging us on our northern border, look at what happened in Gaza, not far from the city of Sderot.”

“Hamas suffered the most serious blow since it was founded this past summer and the [IOF] is prepared to act on every front.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking in Beijing, said Israel should respond in a “forceful and disproportionate manner.”

Meanwhile, former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman warned in a statement on Facebook against “actions” that would lead to a breach of UN Resolution 1701. Resolution 1701 marked the ceasefire that ended the 2006 July War between Israel and Hezbollah.

He also stressed that Lebanon has “no interest” in conflicts that would allow Israel and “terrorist groups” to take advantage of Lebanon’s “relatively stable political situation, which has been enhanced lately by internal dialogue.”

Retaliation for Israeli attacks in Syria

The attack came hours after Israeli aircraft struck alleged Syrian army artillery positions early on Wednesday, and one day after rockets were launched at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

On January 18, an Israeli airstrike on the Syrian city of Quneitra killed six fighters of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of assassinated senior commander Imad Mughniyeh, as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi.

The Hezbollah brigade which carried out the attack, the Quneitra martyrs of the Islamic Resistance, was named in reference to the deadly strike in Quneitra, indicating that Wednesday’s attack was in retaliation for the killing of its members.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah had previously warned Israel against any “stupid” moves in Lebanon and Syria, vowing to retaliate and make sure Israel pays the price for any aggression against the neighboring countries.

Israeli airstrikes on Syria “target the whole of the resistance axis,” Nasrallah said in reference to Syria, Iran and his government, who are sworn enemies of Israel.

“The repeated bombings that struck several targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria,” he said, adding the “axis is capable of responding” anytime.

Since the airstrike, troops and civilians in northern Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine and the occupied Golan Heights have been on heightened alert and Israel has deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor unit near the Syrian border.

The last Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Nasrallah is expected to deliver a speech on January 30 regarding the Israeli strikes.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)

Obama Pushing Economic “Nuclear Option,” Extorting EU Partners To Cut Russia from SWIFT Program

[SEE: Obama Waging Lawyer’s War To Brand Putin As “WAR CRIMINAL” Without Implicating Himself]

Russian PM vows ‘unrestricted’ response if banned from SWIFT payment system

Russia-Today

Russia’s response to a possible cut-off from the SWIFT international banking payment system will be “unrestricted,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev vowed. The West is pushing for hitting Moscow with more sanctions as the Ukraine crisis deteriorates.

“We will see what happens, but of course if such decisions are made, I want to note that our economic reaction and generally any other reaction will be unrestricted,” the Russian prime minister said on Tuesday, calling on the government to “work out concrete decisions which would help our economy in those conditions.”

READ MORE: S&P downgrade ‘groundlessly pessimistic’ – Russian finance minister

Calls to disconnect Russian banks from the global interbank SWIFT system came amid the deterioration of relations between Russia and the West, and the introduction of sanctions in response to Moscow’s alleged role in the Ukraine conflict.

Thus, last August the UK proposed to exclude Russia from the SWIFT system as a part of sanctions imposed on the country due to the situation in eastern Ukraine.

However, SWIFT has said it does not intend to switch Russia off from the system, adding that a number of countries have pressured it to do so. It has insisted it is not joining the anti-Russian sanctions.

In October, Belgium-based SWIFT stressed it has “no authority to make sanctions decisions.”

At the end of last year, Andrey Kostin – the head of VTB Russia’s second largest bank – warned that in his “personal opinion,” excluding Russia from the global SWIFT banking transaction system is another form of sanctions and would mean “war.”

Back in December, Russia’s Central Bank launched a new SWIFT-style payment service aimed at moving away from Western financial dominance.

READ MORE: CBR launches SWIFT alternative for domestic payments

The possibility of cutting Russia out of SWIFT, as well as a list of other anti-Russia measures, will be on the table during a meeting of EU foreign ministers on January 29. To be imposed, the new sanctions must be approved by all 28 EU countries.

SWIFT provides a network that enables financial institutions to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized, and reliable way. SWIFT is a cooperative society under Belgian law and is owned by its member financial institutions. It has offices around the world. The system is comprised of over 10,000 financial organizations from 210 countries.

‘Political’ downgrade

Speaking of the recent developments in Russia’s economy, the prime minister has called S&P’s downgrade of Russia’s credit rating a “political decision.”

“What is it if not a political decision?” he questioned. “We will of course go through this, but it is bad that in a whole it complicates the situation in the country and, honestly speaking, in the world,” Medvedev said.

Also on Tuesday, the prime minister signed a decree containing the main points of the government’s anti-crisis plan, press secretary Natalia Timakova said. The document will be published on Wednesday, when Medvedev plans to discuss details with regional leaders and members of the United Russia party.

Norway to help run Lebanon oil, gas sector

Norway to help run Lebanon oil, gas sector

daily star LEB

BEIRUT: Lebanon and Norway signed a three-year agreement Tuesday under which Oslo will support the Lebanese government’s efforts to develop its infant oil and gas sector.

A statement from Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said the deal was signed between Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian and Norway’s Foreign Ministry State Secretary Bard Pederson.

The signing ushered in the second phase of the “oil for development” project under which Norway will offer technical support to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration and pertinent ministries, including the Energy, Environment and Finance ministries.

Nazarian said Lebanon would benefit from Norway’s know-how and expertise in order to manage its oil resources in the most sustainable and profitable way.

“The Norwegian government was quick to respond to Lebanon’s demand for more expertise [in the oil sector],” Nazarian said at the signing ceremony at Palis Boustros, the seat of Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry.

Pederson meanwhile praised the “great cooperation” between Lebanon and Norway, stressing that his country “will transfer all its oil expertise to Lebanon to enable it to manage its oil resources in a way that would bring great benefits to all the Lebanese people.”

Norway has been involved in helping develop Lebanon’s oil and gas sector since 2006.

– See more at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Business/Local/2015/Jan-28/285547-norway-to-help-run-lebanon-oil-gas-sector.ashx#sthash.azBMztCO.dpuf

Turkey Set To Receive “Turkish Stream” Fuel By Dec. 2016

Gazprom hammers out new sub-Black Sea pipeline agreement in Turkey

oil and gas tech

Submitted by Paddy Harris

A meeting between the head of Gazprom and the Turkish government has approved the proposed route of the new Russia-Turkey pipeline via the Black Sea

On January 28 Gazprom will submit a notice requesting a conduct of FEED operations for the new Turkish offshore section

A meeting between the head of Gazprom and the Turkish government has approved the proposed route of the new Russia-Turkey pipeline via the Black Sea

On January 28 Gazprom will submit a notice requesting a conduct of FEED operations for the new Turkish offshore section

Ankara hosted the working meeting between Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Taner Yildiz, Turkish minister of energy and natural resources, which discussed the main issues of constructing a new gas pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey.

“The joint construction of the gas transportation facilities within such an important project would create the strategic infrastructure partnership between Gazprom and Botas,” said Miller. “The talks were friendly and constructive. Both parties are keen to hit the target. Our priorities – to study the route’s options in Turkey, to define the location of the landfall facilities, gas delivery points for Turkish consumers and border crossings between Turkey and Greece.”

The four strings will have an aggregate capacity of 63 billion cubic metres a year. Six-hundred-and-sixty kilometres of the pipeline’s route will be laid within the old corridor of South Stream and 250 kilometres within a new corridor towards the European part of Turkey.

On January 28 Gazprom will submit a notice requesting a conduct of FEED operations for the new Turkish offshore section. Gazprom will be solely responsible for the construction of the offshore section. Turkish gas transportation facilities will be built jointly.

The project stakes will be distributed in the course of the future talks. Botas is approved to represent the Turkish party. Gazprom and Botas will develop the project schedule within seven days.

“We agreed to plan our work in such a way that would allow us to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement on the gas pipeline in the second quarter this year, therefore the first gas would come to Turkey in December 2016,” added Miller.

“In this respect, the first string’s throughput capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres will be exclusively intended for Turkish consumers. Considering the state of readiness of the Russkaya compressor station and the pipeline’s offshore section, this deadline is absolutely real.”

Turkey is Gazprom’s second largest sales market behind Germany. In 2014 Gazprom supplied Turkey with 27.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas.

Turkey currently receives Russian natural gas via the Blue Stream and the Trans-Balkan gas pipelines.

On December 1, 2014 Gazprom and Turkish company Botas Petroleum Pipeline Corporation signed the Memorandum of Understanding on constructing an offshore gas pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey.

 

The gas pipeline will have a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres, with nearly 50 billion cubic metres to be conveyed to a gas hub on the border between Turkey and Greece. Gazprom Russkaya will be in charge of the gas pipeline construction.

Related topics:

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Turkey

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Greece and Russia to restore relations under the new government

Greece and Russia to restore relations under the new government

 

failed revolution

globinfo freexchange
Only a few days in power and the new Greek government under Alexis Tsipras shows that is not willing to play the role of the puppet. Through a statement, the Greek government correctly expressed its dissatisfaction about the way the EU handled the issue of possible new sanctions against Russia.
From Reuters:
The new Greek government of leftwing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras complained to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday, saying it had not been consulted about a statement on the growing crisis in Ukraine.
In a rare joint statement, EU leaders voiced concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and condemned the killing of civilians in the ‘indiscriminate shelling’ of Mariupol. They asked their foreign ministers to consider possible new sanctions against Russia in response although a final decision is expected to be left until a summit next month.
Fresh from his election victory, Tsipras was sworn in as prime minister on Monday and only unveiled his cabinet on Tuesday. But his office said the EU should still have secured consent from Athens before issuing a statement in the name of European member states. “In this context, we underline that it does not have our country’s consent. Dissatisfaction with the handling of this was expressed in a telephone conversation between the prime minister and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Mogherini,” the statement said.
Greek-Russian relations were downgraded significantly under previous Antonis Samaras government. Former government followed immediately Western sanctions against Russia, something that triggered Russia’s response to block many Greek products from the Russian market. (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/08/the-most-faithful-puppets.html)
Tsipras shows that he is willing to walk towards an opposite direction and restore the relations with Russians. The latest fast response is not accidental, as in the critical position of the minister of foreign affairs has been placed Nikos Kotzias, who is quite known for his positions concerning a stronger approach between Greece and Russia.
Kotzias expressed also his “anti-Troika” feelings in the past, stating that the Troika lenders in Greece serve specific interests, something that was actually confirmed by a government official three years later: http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/03/official-troika-in-greece-serves.html
The leader of the anti-memorandum party EPAM (United People’s Front), Dimitris Kazakis, stated that this was a first positive reaction by the Greek government, while extends the field of actions that the government should take, claiming that Tsipras government should use veto against the rest of the EU in order to stop the escalation of the slaughter by the neo-nazis in Ukraine, and restore relations with Russia. (http://dimitriskazakis.blogspot.gr/2015/01/blog-post_71.html)
On the other side, Putin shows that he wants to take the opportunity of the new government in power and restore relations with Greece, upgrading Russia’s role in the East Mediterranean. He rushed to send congratulations to Tsipras and made previously a move which shows that he wants to put Greece back in the game: http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/12/fresh-smart-moves-by-putin-in.html
Also from Moscow Times:
Greece’s new prime minister, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, established contact with Russia prior to being elected. Like other leaders of formerly fringe European political parties, Tsipras was received as a highly honored guest by the Kremlin. The leftist leader met with Russian officials in Moscow last May, including Valentina Matviyenko, chair of the Russian parliament’s upper house who had served as Russia’s ambassador to Greece in the late 1990s.
Greek objection to sanctions against Russia is in part motivated by the losses the country has suffered over Russia’s subsequent ban on a range of food products from the European Union, according to Syriza officials. Kostas Isihos, the party’s foreign policy boss, told government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Monday that Greek farmers, whose exports to Russia include fruit and olive oil, had lost some 430 million euros because of the sanctions.
Putin warmly congratulated Tsipras on his victory Monday, expressing confidence “that Russia and Greece will continue to develop their traditionally constructive cooperation in all areas and will work together effectively to resolve current European and global problems,” according to the Kremlin’s website. Putin also referred to “current difficult conditions” and wished Tsipras success in working in them.
If Russia didn’t have its own economic crisis, it might be willing to financially support the new Greek government’s anti-austerity measures,” said Vasily Koltashov, head of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements’ economic research center. “It is unlikely that Greece views Russia as a useful partner right now. Chances are that they view Russia as a partner in [economic] trouble.”
Moscow also shows that seeks to restore relations with Cyprus after the bail-in fiasco with the Cypriot banks that brought big losses to the Russian depositors.
From globalpost:
Moscow is seeking military facilities on Cyprus, Russian ambassador Nicosia Stanislav Osadchiy said on Wednesday.
But Osadchiy said his country’s consultations with the foreign ministry of Cyprus were presently centered on bilateral agreements to be signed when the eastern Mediterranean island’s president, Nicos Anastasiades, visits Moscow on Feb. 25. Osadchiy did not specify the kind of facilities Moscow wanted Cyprus to provide.
Russia is interested in an agreement providing military facilitation similar to the ones in place with France and Germany,” Osacdhiy said. “The matter is being discussed,” he added.
As Tsipras stated that the first country he will visit will be Cyprus, everything shows that we may see in future the shaping of the geopolitical triangle of Greece-Cyprus-Russia, containing common interests in the fields of economy, security and energy.

Obama Waging Lawyer’s War To Brand Putin As “WAR CRIMINAL” Without Implicating Himself

[From the selection of news headlines given below, it is apparent that Obama’s war against Putin has taken a new, even riskier path.  Instead of continuing to simply threaten, bribe and browbeat the EU allies into closing ranks behind his scheme to isolate Putin, he intends to attempt to charge Putin with “WAR CRIMES” in the UN Security Council, branding him a “ROGUE,” Russia an “AGGRESSOR STATE” and the Novo-Russians (Eastern Ukrainian) as “TERRORISTS,” terms which Obama himself has already been branded with hundreds of times on the battlefield of the free Internet. 

Thanks to Obama a battle for a “Free Europe” will be settled upon the “Ukrainian battlefield,” by “Good Guys,” who are really “Bad Guys” of the worst sort, expecting us to believe and support them, as they turn Europe into a new tinderbox, for no good reason.  When it all boils down, there is no reason for the division and animosity between Ukraine and Russia, except for the pain left over from mistakes that are now past and the universal Ukrainians unwillingness to pay the real cost of keeping their homes warm in the wintertime.]

Ukrainian MPs call on UN, NATO & PACE to recognize Russia as ‘aggressor state’

Russia Is Turning Into a Rogue State

US Official:’ A Free Europe Rises or Falls With Ukraine’

Pro-Russian rebels officially labelled terrorists by Ukraine government

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the United Nations, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, GUAM Parliamentary Assembly and international parliaments on

recognizing the Russian Federation the aggressor state”

( Information Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat )

The people’s deputies adopted the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the United Nations, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, GUAM Parliamentary Assembly and international parliaments on recognizing the Russian Federation the aggressor state.

271 people’s deputy voted in favor.