As Turkey riots, Erdoğan meets with Hamas
Ma’an News Service, Gaza Strip reports: A Hamas delegation led by party chief Khalid Mashaal arrived in Ankara on Tuesday for a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The visit to Turkey follows a four-day trip to Egypt and is part of a regional tour by Hamas delegates to discuss security and political developments in Palestine. The group has also visited Bahrain and Kuwait, and is expected to visit Jordan and Oman.
Hamas says its Iran ties worsen over Syrian civil war
The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: Hamas said on Wednesday its relations with financial backer Iran have suffered as a result of the Islamist group’s support of rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Iranian ally. Hamas was also once an Assad ally but last year endorsed the revolt against him in a shift that deprived the Syrian leader of an important Sunni Muslim supporter in the Arab world. “Our relations with Iran were affected both on the political and the financial levels,” said Bashar al-Assad, deputy minister of foreign affairs in the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip. Hamad declined to provide any figures for the amount of aid Hamas receives from Iran or give details of any cutbacks, other than to say “it did not get to the point of boycott (from Tehran)”. “We have stood by the Syrian people and we have backed the demands of the revolution,” Hamad told reporters, saying those positions had led to a worsening of ties with Tehran. A diplomatic source in the region said Iran has provided Hamas with up to $20 million a month to help pay the salaries of nearly half of 50,000 Gaza government employees… Iran has also provided Hamas with weapons, including long-range rockets that it has used to strike cities deep inside Israel.
Under pressure, Ahmadinejad summoned to appear in court
Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was summoned yesterday to appear before a criminal court on unspecified charges leveled by a conservative rival, days after moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani was elected his successor. While Rowhani’s election on Friday showed a desire for change, it also highlighted divisions among Iran’s establishment conservatives who, though united in their dislike of Ahmadinejad, were unable to rally behind a single candidate. The summons was issued by a Tehran court and follows a complaint by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. It did not elaborate on the complaint, saying only that Ahmadinejad would face the unnamed charges in November. Ahmadinejad, who will leave office in August after Rowhani’s inauguration, was not immediately available for comment. The court summons could be a taste of things to come for the outgoing leader who, after receiving the backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to suppress protests against his re-election in 2009, later fell foul of the supreme leader for challenging his ultimate authority.
Refugee influx to Jordan rises as rebel losses mount
The Jordan Times reports: Hundreds of Syrians fled to Jordan on Tuesday as rebels reportedly suffered growing losses at the hands of regime and Hezbollah forces. According to the Jordan Armed Forces, some 650 Syrians crossed into Jordan early Tuesday, up from 340 on Monday and the largest single-day influx in over a week. Meanwhile, rebel sources suffered growing losses along the Jordanian-Syrian border as Damascus continued a sweeping military offensive that has seen regime forces retake over 30 towns and villages. Regime forces recaptured the southern villages of Sheikh Al Maskin, Ibta and Al Quneitrah over the past 48 hours in what some are calling a “scorched earth” campaign backed by Hezbollah fighters, according to local residents and rebel officials. “After Hezbollah fighters entered Ibta, they didn’t leave a single person or building standing,” said Abu Omar Al Golani, whose Free Syrian Army battalion participated in the battle. “All that is left is blood and stone.” As of Tuesday, some 7,000 Iranian and Hizbollah fighters had encircled Daraa, local residents and rebels claimed, in a bid to lay siege to the city, one of the final southern rebel strongholds. No clashes between rebel and foreign forces were reported in Daraa on Tuesday, ending three straight days of minor skirmishes on the outskirts of the city. The arrival of Hezbollah and recent regime gains in southern Syria have sparked fears of potential sectarian “reprisal massacres”, leading to what local residents describe as a “mass migration” into Jordan. By Tuesday, some 8,000 displaced Syrians had amassed along the border with Jordan, waiting to cross, they said.
Hungary charges Nazi war crimes suspect, 98 – Csatari actively involved in deporting Jews in 1944
Kuwait Times reports: Hungarian prosecutors yesterday charged a 98-year-old top Nazi war crimes suspect over his brutal alleged role in deporting some 12,000 Jews to death camps in World War II. Laszlo Lajos Csatari was “actively involved in and assisted the deportations” in 1944 of Jews from a ghetto in a town then in Hungary and now in Slovakia, prosecutors said in a statement. The former police officer “regularly beat the interned Jews with his bare hands and whipped them with a dog-whip without any special reasons, regardless of their sex, age or health,” prosecutors said. He also refused requests to cut windows into airless train wagons each transporting around 80 men, women and children to death camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, mostly Auschwitz in Poland, prosecutors said.
[Lebanese] Army deploys as gunmen open fire in Lebanese city
Gulf Times, Qatar reports: The Lebanese army deployed yesterday near the southern town of Sidon, a security source said, after shooting by gunmen loyal to a controversial Salafist sheikh opposed to Hezbollah. The violence comes amid sectarian tensions in Lebanon that have escalated because of the war in Syria. The army said several people were wounded by the gunfire. “Gunmen loyal to Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir opened fire on Abra,” a security source said, referring to an eastern suburb of the coastal town of Sidon. “Lebanese army units are currently deploying in Abra and its vicinity in eastern Sidon,” Lebanon’s National News Agency reported. Assir is known for his opposition to Hezbollah. He has alleged several times that the group uses several apartments in Abra to stockpile weapons and house fighters. The security source confirmed that the apartments were targeted by the gunmen, though there were reports of fighting in other areas as well. According to the army, the violence broke out after a car accident in the southern city, when “armed men took to the streets in Abra and opened fire… and wounded several people.” “The army command warns all armed men that they must immediately withdraw from the streets, and that the military will not allow chaos to spread,” said the army. The military “will shoot at any armed man and respond to sources of fire”, it added. Sectarian tensions pitting Sunnis against Shias have soared in fragile Lebanon as the spillover from Syria’s war has escalated.
Palestine Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah refuses Israel protection
Gulf News, UAE reports: The newly-appointed Palestinian premier Rami Hamdallah has refused the free services offered by the Israeli security service and insisted he will move in the Zone C area of the Palestinian territories without protection. The Zone C is under full Israeli security and civil control. Hamdallah visited the occupied east Jerusalem on Sunday and prayed in Al Aqsa Mosque after his office rejected the presence of the Israeli security. The Israeli website Walla reported on Monday that Hamdallah has created a diplomatic crisis as he refused to allow the security services to provide him with protection. According to procedures, Israeli security service offers its services to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior aides when they move in Zone C. Quoting a senior security officer, Walla said that the security service will be in trouble if Hamdallah wants to travel to Jordan by road No. 60 to reach Allenby Crossing. “We do not know how to provide the Palestinian premier with protection against the ‘price tag’ attacks and we are not sure about the way the Israeli colonists would act if the premier’s car was spotted,” said the official.