Lebanese security forces check a damaged vehicle following a car bomb blast in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on Jan. 14, 2018 (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)
A Hamas official was the target of a planted bomb in Sidon
It was placed under the seat of his car
Lebanese investigators are analyzing surveillance footage
Some believed the official was involved in the shooting of a Rabbi in the West Bank
Investigators Tuesday analyzed footage from surveillance cameras in south Lebanon’s Sidon as the investigation into an explosion targeting Hamas Movement official Mohammad Hamdan entered its second day.
Lebanese security forces continued with their investigation into Sunday’s attempt to kill Hamdan, in which a bomb planted under the seat of his BMW, outside his Abu Sido building in Sidon’s Bustan al-Kabir, exploded. Hamdan was injured in the incident and is undergoing treatment at a Sidon hospital.
The Army removed a security cordon erected around the site, while the car was transferred to a military center for further forensic investigations.
The security forces have been looking at surveillance footage taken by cameras mounted on nearby buildings, shops and schools to help ascertain the events leading up to the explosion. Although no arrests have yet been made in the case, security agencies are also looking at who was living in the nearby buildings and who owned the shops in the area.
Sources said the investigators are also looking to access the telecoms data of some of the area’s residents.
Sunday’s incident broke the calm in the southern city of Sidon, and the questions of who targeted Hamdan, and why, remain.
Hamdan was not widely known as a Hamas figure in Lebanon prior to the incident, but sources in Sidon said he is believed to be in the group’s inner circle.
Palestinian sources said that Hamdan was involved in planning several actions in Israel and some believed he had been involved in the decision to green-light the recent shooting of Rabbi Raziel Shevach at the illegal West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad on Jan. 9.
His apparent connection to actions in Israel and his relative obscurity even among Hamas political officials led some Palestinian sources to question whether the Jewish state had been behind the attack.
“Israel wanted to send two messages from the incident: The first is for Hamas, saying that although Hamdan isn’t widely known among the movement’s leaders, he is known to Israel,” a source said.
“The other message is that there is an attempt to move the fight from Israel into Lebanon in an attempt to cause tension between Palestinians and Lebanon.”
Hamdan was lightly wounded in the attack and nearby buildings incurred material damage.
Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi headed to the site to survey the damage and announced that a municipal committee would be established to assess the damage caused by the attack and the steps that could be taken to compensate those affected.
Saudi was among those who contended that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad was most likely behind the incident.
“The explosion destroyed the window glass, but everything can be fixed. Thank God my family is good,” Mohammad Ghaddar, a resident of one of the buildings affected, said.
Director of the nearby Al-Iman school, Kamel Kozbar, said that the roof of one of the school’s halls had collapsed after the explosion.
“We thank God that school was closed or else [students] would have been hurt,” Kozbar said. “We handed over the surveillance camera footage to the security agencies.”
The UAE’s use of a warped form of Arab Nationalism for countering Turkey and Iran’s perceived leadership of the global Muslim community works in favor of America’s grand strategic interests by creating a trilateral Dubai-Riyadh-Cairo axis for Washington to rely upon in “Leading From Behind” to break the post-Jerusalem trend of multipolar unity spreading throughout the Ummah.
Emirati officials have recently become embroiled in a Twitter feud with Turkish President Erdogan that strongly resembles a preplanned infowar operation against the most vocal opponent of President Trump’s unilateral recognition of the entirety of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan started the spat last week by accusing “Erdogan’s ancestors” of pillaging the holy city of Medina during World War I, sharing photos that he claimed was proof of “their history with Arabs and Muslims”.
Erdogan, wisely sensing that this was a provocation designed to enflame anti-Turkish sentiment in the Mideast, deflected the attack by reassuring his wider audience that “…Arab people are our brothers. That said, the enmity of some leaders in Arab countries is meant to hide their own incompetence and even treason.” This was a clear inference to the reports that the UAE, among several other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, is secretly coordinating a lopsided Palestinian “peace deal” with Israel and the US that might purportedly see the native people’s capital dishonorably relocated from its pre-1967 location in East Jerusalem to a suburb of that city while the entirety of it is planned to remain in Israeli hands.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric and keen to reverse the narrative dynamic after Erdogan’s powerful counterpunch, one of the UAE’s chief diplomatic figures, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash, jumped into the brawl by tweeting that “…The Arab world will not be led by Tehran or Ankara. The geostrategic competition taking place in the region calls for strengthened Arab [unity] with Riyadh and Cairo as its pillar.” This statement is designed to bolster the Arab Nationalist credentials of his country’s Foreign Minister and imply that non-Arab Muslim states are abusing religion for neo-colonial purposes. Furthermore, Gargash’s comments lay out the plan for countering this supposed threat, which is for the Arab World to unite around Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the UAE’s two allies.
It may seem surprising for a Gulf Monarchy to invoke the cry of Arab Nationalism when considering that this very same ideology was at one time believed to be the most dangerous threat to their rule during a period of the Cold War, one which saw Egypt leading the charge for democratizing the Arab World under the leadership of its world-renowned President Nasser. The times have changed, however, because nowadays Egypt is a client state of Saudi Arabia due to the billions that the Kingdom has provided it ever since President Sisi’s 2013 coup against Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, while Riyadh itself is under Abu Dhabi’s influence due to the mentorship that Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) provides to Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).
The chain of command is thus that the two Emirati officials’ tweets about reviving Arab Nationalism can be seen as orders for Saudi Arabia and Egypt to implement in breaking the cross-sectarian example that Turkey and Iran’s perceived joint leadership of the Palestinian cause and subsequently the Ummah as a whole has created. The “weak link” in the Turkish-Iranian Strategic Partnership is that it doesn’t involve an Arab anchor, notwithstanding the irrelevancy of this to the Muslim-majority areas of sub-Saharan Africa, and Central (the former Soviet “‘stans”), South (Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei). The Hybrid War battlefield in this case is in the Mideast, the core of which is populated by Arabs, and that’s why the UAE is attempting to employ Arab Nationalism in order to weaken Turkish-Iranian influence here following the defeat of Daesh and Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
Abu Dhabi: Chief Decision Maker
The superficial OIC unity of just a few weeks prior has been completely dispelled and proven to be just as illusory as most objective individuals always realized that it was. The current geopolitical situation makes it impossible for this dream to ever be achieved in real life, and now the UAE is taking the helm in actively trying to divide the region into Arab and non-Arab halves. The Emirates, despite their small size, is actually in many ways more powerful than their much larger and wealthier Saudi neighbor, not least because of the rapid expansion of its military influence since the beginning of the War on Yemen. Abu Dhabi now boasts military facilities in Eritrea, the breakaway region of Somaliland, and the South Yemeni port city of Aden and its offshore Socotra Islands. In addition, MBZ brilliantly leveraged his influence over MBS to compel the “Red Prince” into provoking the Qatar Crisis, all to the UAE and its American partner’s benefit.
In fact, just like with the artificially manufactured Qatar Crisis, the UAE’s zombie revival of Arab Nationalism is also in America’s interests as well. It should be clarified at this point that Arab Nationalism is ordinarily organic and has a proud history in the region, though the new iteration that Abu Dhabi is trying to popularize through Saudi Arabia and Egypt is predicated on insincere ideological reasons and thus being exploited for weaponized geopolitical purposes. The whole point is to counter Turkey’s Muslim Brotherhood influence and the Resistance one wielded by its Iranian partner, both of which are seen as much more “expansionist” and “threatening” than war-torn Syria’s constitutionally secular one at the moment.
Old School vs. New School
The UAE hopes that it and its Saudi underling’s enormous wealth can work infowar wonders in convincing Arabs that the historical memory that many of them still hold dearly about Egypt’s Cold War-era leadership of this cause is about to be relived in the present day, despite the fact that the current Cairo government offers nothing substantial at all to this ideology nowadays and is only relying on geopolitical nostalgia and the presumption that the most populous Arab country is the only state that deserves to publicly lead this cause. In addition, the Arab Nationalism being espoused by the UAE significantly differs from the Arab Nationalism of the Nasser period.
Back then, this ideology focused more on uniting the broader cultural-linguistic space and incorporating non-Arab ethnicities such as Kurds and Berbers, like how Syria and Algeria have done, not in obsessing over the racial exclusion of others such as Turks and Persians like the Emiratis want to have happen. This makes the ideology’s Eastern Mediterranean-originating predecessor more “left-wing” and “progressive” than its Gulf-proposed “right-wing” and “conservative” iteration. Not only that, but Nasser’s Arab Nationalism was about multipolarity, embodied in the Cold War as the Non-Aligned Movement of which Egypt was a founding member, while the UAE’s version of this ideology is unipolar in the sense that it seeks to divide the emerging Multipolar World Order in the region along strictly ethnic lines in support of American grand strategic interests to roll back Turkish and Iranian soft power gains in this space.
Arabs Selling Out Other Arabs While Distracting Them With Arab Nationalism
Returning back to President Erdogan’s hints about the UAE and other Arab State’s “treason”, his words now take on an even more loaded meaning when bearing in mind Abu Dhabi’s recruitment of Saudi Arabia and Egypt as pillars for a new Arab Nationalism. This revised ideology will be used as an ethnic nationalist smokescreen for distracting the Arab masses from what can be argued is the quintessentially anti-Arab plan to force the Palestinian Authority to accept the de-facto settlement borders and infamous wall in the West Bank as the formal territorial delineation between their proposed state and Israel, as well as to surrender East Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque (the third-holiest site in Islam) while pitifully “being allowed” to relocate their new capital to a nearby suburb as “compensation”.
This makes it fundamentally different from the traditional/classical Arab Nationalism of the Nasser era that preaches an empowering message and demands at the very least the return to the pre-1967 borders, to say nothing of its Syrian manifestation by the ruling Baath Party which calls for the pre-1948 return of the entire region to its original mostly Muslim Arab Palestinian inhabitants prior to the territory’s post-World War II colonization by European-originating “Weapons of Mass Migration”. It’s precisely because of how disadvantageous the original Egyptian and current Syrian forms of Arab Nationalism are that both states were targeted by Hybrid Wars, first with Sadat being encouraged by the CIA to “flip” his country from the Soviet to the Western camp in the run-up to officially recognizing Israel and then decades later with the War of Terror on Syria that began after the 2011 theater-wide “Arab Spring” Color Revolutions spread to the Arab Republic.
Pertaining to those destabilizing events that first kicked off at the beginning of the decade, they were initially intended to form a transnational Arab superstate run by Muslim Brotherhood governments that would behave as satellites of Turkey, their chief ideological patron at the time, all with the purpose of forming a new geopolitical bloc that could simultaneously “contain” Iran while putting pressure on the US’ Gulf allies. The strategic situation has since shifted dramatically so that’s no longer the US’ “Lead From Behind” blueprint. The new revision of this plan seeks to reverse the dynamic by having the UAE replace Turkey in a more complex formation that sees Abu Dhabi promote Saudi Arabia’s symbolic stewardship of Islam by virtue of its Custodianship of the Two Holy Mosques together with the most populous Arab state Egypt’s historical legacy of traditional/classic Arab Nationalism to craft a warped version of this ideology adapted to modern-day geopolitical imperatives.
The US-backed Emirati reiteration of Arab Nationalism is therefore clearly distinguishable in form from its original Egyptian one and is intended to replace the last remnants of the latter in order to make the “patriotic” case for essentially selling out the Palestinians on the basis of “resisting Turkish and Persian/Iranian imperialism”, an utterly weaponized narrative that’s nonetheless expected to become a key storyline in 2018. Washington’s unipolar geostrategic position in the Mideast is threatened by the cross-sectarian Muslim cooperation between the multipolar Great Powers of Sunni Turkey and Shiite Iran, and with the sectarian myth visibly busted as a result, the American fallback plan for dividing and ruling the Mideast via a US-led version of Israel’s infamous Yinon Plan is to ironically foster a new, albeit perverted, sense of Arab Nationalism spearheaded by its rising UAE ally.
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Mohammed Dahlan, Israel, Egypt and the UAE’s assassin, established a camp of eight thousand terrorists who are trained to launch provocative attacks in Turkey, Libya, Sudan and Qatar.
Mohammed Dahlan, who is known as the “the assassin of the Middle East”, established a terror camp composed of eight thousand people in Egypt. The camp, built in Sinai’s peninsula one-and-a-half year ago, is backed by the United Arab Emirates. The terrorists in the camp are trained for immense attacks in the Middle East, particularly in Turkey, Sudan, Libya and Qatar. The camps first objective, where assault teams are trained by terrorist Abu Hafs, who formed the Libyan structure of Daesh, is to occupy Gaza.
GAZA, DAHLAN’S FIRST TARGET
Mohammed Dahlan, according to his plan, would create the perception that the “Daesh terror organization occupied Gaza”, by striking Israel-held regions with missiles after deploying Daesh teams in Gaza, and organizing a set of terror attacks. Simultaneously assassinating a number of high level persons in Egypt and Gaza is also a part of the plan. Dahlan aimed to lay the foundation for Egypt’s occupation of Gaza with suicide attacks which would cause great destruction.
TERROR CELL UNITS ESTABLISHED
Mohammed Dahlan’s project to occupy the region by defeating Hamas is supported by Fatah Spymaster Teyfik al-Turavi. Some of the people who were involved in crime by Fatah with so-called Daesh operation teams and dismissed from Egypt’s Sinai camp were also involved in the plan. The provocation team of 700 people formed terror cell units of eight across Gaza.
ISRAEL TO OCCUPY UNDER THE COVER OF DAESH
After Gaza’s occupation, Israel’s harassment and occupation will gather pace in some regions, such as Quds, Hebron and Bethlehem. The operations which are planned to be launched in Gaza, and target countries such as Turkey and Qatar by the terrorists trained with the partnership of Mohammed Dahlan, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be supported by SKY News and Gad TV channel. It was reported that around 900 terrorists were sent to the target countries from the camp in Sinai.
UAE SPENDS $700 MILLION
Terrorists were deported to Turkey, Qatar, the Philippines and Libya from the terror camp which was established by the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He had spent $700 million in the establishment of the camp. Given special operation training, terrorists were raised to organize so-called Daesh attacks.
Visiting Gaza five times during the last six months from the West Bank, Merve al-Misri was tracked by the Hamas intelligence unit. Al-Misri, who was arrested in an operation while visiting a cell structure, was taken into custody with $650 thousand in her possession. The female journalist confessed the plan against Gaza during her interrogation.
Turkish military vehicles seen in a rural area of the Kurdish region in this file photo, Turkey. (Photo: DHA)
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities in the Kurdish province of Dersim on Monday announced a fortnight-long curfew and entry ban on 30 mostly rural areas, declaring them as “special security zones” on the grounds of fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A statement by Dersim’s Ankara-appointed governor’s office said the curfew, starting from Tuesday, covers parts of five districts, among them the central one, Ovacik, Pulumur, Hozat, and Nazimiye.
The online statement read that a geographically wide-ranging military operation was underway and its objective was “to neutralize terrorist elements.”
People could not enter the locations whose coordinates were specified without an official permit from authorities.
Dersim, officially named “Tunceli (Iron Hand)” after the 1938 Turkish offensive and genocide of the local population, serves as a mountainous sanctuary for the Kurdish guerrillas fighting for self-rule.
Ankara repeatedly imposes round-the-clock curfews in dozens of Kurdish provinces since August 2015 when a two years-held peace talks and ceasefire with the PKK collapsed.
Over 2,000 people—among them Kurdish fighters, Turkish soldiers, and hundreds of civilians—have been killed in the renewed phase of the decades-long conflict, also initially fought in dozens of urban population centers for months.
Turkey is already under a nation-wide state of emergency, a measure President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration last week extended for the sixth time to counter what he labels as collaborators of the attempted coup against his rule in 2016.
Meanwhile, to Turkey’s south, the army continued to reinforce troops and tanks in the Hatay Province on the border with Syria, as Erdogan promised an imminent invasion of the Kurdish-ruled region there.
Howitzers staged constant mortar attacks on the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions in the self-administered Afrin canton.
Turkey alleges the YPG is a mere offshoot of the PKK in Syria—a view US officials refuse to share.
Erdogan vowed to crush the YPG in response to Washington’s continued support to the Kurds there and a new force the US is helping build tasked with protecting the border.
SULAIMANI – Syrian Kurdish fighters have been provided with anti-aircraft missiles known as MANPADS by United States in the canton of Afrin in northern Syria, local sources said on Sunday (January 14).
The shipment of anti-aircraft missiles to Afrin, a Kurdish-held canton and repeated target of the Turkish army, show an easing of restrictions on arming the Kurdish forces by the U.S.
Afrin is controlled by the YPG considered by Ankara to be a terror group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) waging an insurgency inside Turkey.
Neither the U.S. nor SDF clarified why Kurdish fighters want shoulder-fired anti-aircraft system, as the Islamic State (ISIS) does not have warplanes.
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to attack the canton “in the days ahead” to clear it of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters.
“The slightest disturbance on the border would be the signal for us to take a step,” Erdogan said in a televised speech on Sunday (January 14).
“We will continue our operations begun with Operation Euphrates Shield to clean our southern borders of terror in Afrin [northern Syria] in the days ahead God willing.”
Late last year, Turkish troops were deployed to rebel-held northern Idlib province, south of Afrin, as part of an agreement with Iran and Russia to implement four so-called de-escalation zones in flashpoint areas around Syria.
Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists” and in November 2016, he said Turkish troops needed to be deployed there.
The issue is among many causing tense relations between Ankara and Washington. Turkish officials said in November that U.S. President Donald Trump told them Washington would no longer supply weapons to the YPG.
The U.S. Administration later denied they would halt weapons supply, but limit them to maintaining security now that ISIS had been expelled from Syria.
“I hope that during an Afrin operation, these powers will not make the mistake of appearing to be on the same side as a terror organization,” Erdogan said in an apparent reference to the U.S. during the rally in the northern Turkish city of Tokat.
He added he hoped Turkey “would take action together” with its allies.
Since December, Ankara has reinforced the southern border of Turkey through the Hatay district sending armored vehicles, tanks and howitzers into Syria, sources told Hurriyet Daily news.
Turkey has strongly reacted against the United States decision to build a new force with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in order to secure Turkish and Iraqi borders with Syria.
The Foreign Ministry slammed media reports that the U.S.-led international coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—the U.S.-backed group that is largely controlled and manned by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Jan. 14 saying Turkey had reiterated on numerous occasions that it was “wrong and objectionable” to cooperate with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) “terrorist organization” on the ground in Syria in order to fight ISIL and stabilize the areas liberated from it.
“On the other hand, the establishment of the so-called ‘Syria Border Protection Force’ was not consulted with Turkey, which is a member of the coalition,” the statement said.
It was also unknown which coalition members approved this decision, the ministry said. “To attribute such a unilateral step to the whole coalition is an extremely wrong move that could harm the fight against Daesh,” it said, referring to ISIL in an Arabic acronym.
“Such initiatives, through cooperation with the PYD/YPG in contradiction with U.S. commitments and statements, endanger Turkey’s national security and the territorial integrity of Syria, and are totally unacceptable,” it said.
“We condemn insistence on this wrong approach and once again remind that Turkey is determined to and capable of eliminating any threats against the country,” it added.
The coalition had issued a written statement to some media outlets earlier on Jan. 14, wherein it said the coalition was working with the SDF to set up and train a Syria Border Protection Force.
Turkey has long protested U.S. support for the PKK/PYD, as Ankara sees it an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while Washington sees it as a “reliable ally” in its fight against ISIL in Syria.
Turkey has ‘right’ to fight terrorism ‘in any way’: Presidential spokesman
Turkey has the right to fight all terrorist groups in any manner it deems fit and will continue to take necessary measures to ensure its security in line with national interests, Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Jan. 14.
“Within this framework, Turkey reserves its right to respond to the legitimate target of terrorist organizations in any way, time and place,” Kalın said in a written statement.
“The United States of America takes worrisome steps towards legitimizing the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian offshoot, PYD-YPG under the pretense of ‘fight against Daesh,’” Kalın said, adding the steps also aimed to provide a permanent place for the terrorist group in the region.
[Hekmatyar has facilitated this new avenue leading towards real peace, we hope. This new peace outlet in Turkey brings the anti-Taliban militants, under Mullah Rasoul, together with Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami (HIA) and the Afghan High Peace Council, without interference from the US, Pakistan or Iran. It is time to close the fake “Taliban Office” in Doha and put an end to that US deception, which was intended to prevent real peace talks from taking place outside of US control.]
KABUL (Pajhwok): A quadrilateral intra-Afghan peace dialogue began on Saturday in the Turkish capital Istanbul, to find a negotiated end to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan, a reliable source said.
A participant of the meeting confided to Pajhwok Afghan News the gathering initiated on Saturday would last three days (until Monday).
The source, wishing anonymity, also shared a few photos of the gathering with Pajhwok, saying the peace dialogue was arranged in cooperation with the Turkish government.
He said Taliban’s Qatar Office members, Mullah Mohammad Rassoul splinter faction members, the Afghan government representatives and Hezb-i-IslamiAfghanistan (HIA) members were attending the huddle.
Rahmatullah Wardak is representing the Taliban, Mullah Rauf and Abdul Halim the Rassoul group, Haji Dawajan Ahmadzai and Homayoon Jarir the HIA and Dr. Basir, envoy of High Peace Council (HPC) head Karim Khalili is speaking on behalf of the government in the session.
The source said similar meetings had taken place in Turkey between the sides last year, but media was kept in the dark about them.
The meeting comes as reports suggest the Turkish government has proposed the Taliban to open a political office in the country.
A spokesman for the HIA, Mohammad Nadar Afghan, confirmed the gathering to Pajhwok. However, he said, Homayoon Jarir and Dawajan Ahmadzai had not participated in the gathering on behalf of the HIA.
He said Jarir was a presidential advisor and both might be privately invited to the gathering.
Also an official of the HPC confirmed to Pajhwok the gathering in Turkey; however, he didn’t go into details.
A source close to Taliban admitted the peace negotiations but said no one from their supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah group was participating in the gathering.
He said a Taliban member named Rahmatullah Wardak was attending the gathering. Wardak, a former Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) employee had served as an intelligence operative in the Tailban regime. Wardak has been running a bee honey business in Dubai over the past few years.
According to the Taliban source, this was a third meeting of the kind taking placing between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Turkey. “But the recent (this meeting) is organized as a result of HIA leader Gulbuddin Hekmtyar’s visit to the country.”