‘More Israeli strikes against Iranian positions likely as Tehran seeks to destabilize region,’ says analyst

Fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli warplane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel February 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 February 2018
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‘More Israeli strikes against Iranian positions likely as Tehran seeks to destabilize region,’ says analyst

JEDDAH: Saturday’s sudden military escalation between Israel and the Assad regime may be a harbinger of what lies ahead as the Syrian fighting winds down and an emboldened Iran establishes a military presence that Israel vows it will never accept, analysts told Arab News.
“We can expect more Israeli strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah positions on Syrian soil in the future as Tehran seeks to further destabilize the region,” said Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program.
The escalation also shows that “Iran is at the helm of what remains of Assad’s military, and has supplanted any semblance of Syrian sovereignty,” he said.
“The Assad regime’s military suffered a major blow as a result of Iran’s military incursion. The Israeli airforce counterattack destroyed a significant portion of Assad’s long range SA-5 integrated air defense network outside Damascus.”
Gerald Feierstein, the US Ambassador to Yemen and director for Gulf affairs at the Middle East Institute, said: “Even though both sides are indicating that they don’t seek an escalation, the heightened tensions and the proximity of all of these forces are a clear threat.
“These kind of incidents can spin out of control with unintended consequences. The possibility that Russia and the US could be pulled into a confrontation between Israel, Syria and Iran should make everyone very worried.”
In Washington, the Pentagon said: “We share the concerns of many throughout the region over Iran’s destabilizing activities that threaten international peace and security, and we seek greater international resolve in countering Iran’s malign activities.”
Other analysts said they did not expect further escalation for now, but suggested the heavy anti-aircraft fire showed Syria was more emboldened to stop Israel’s strikes.
Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group said Russia should mediate since “it is the only stakeholder which has strong relations with all sides today.
“This incident signals a new phase … of the war in Syria,” he said.


3 Indian nationals kidnapped Bangladeshi worker for money: Lebanese police

Lebanese security forces say the kidnapping highlights the ability of overseas workers to form active gangs. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 16 August 2018
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3 Indian nationals kidnapped Bangladeshi worker for money: Lebanese police

  • The 41-year-old worker was kidnapped and tortured by his Indian captors, say police
  • Three Indian nationals have been arrested and charged in court

BEIRUT:  A Bangladeshi man kidnapped by Indian workers in Lebanon was the victim of a ransom plot, Lebanese internal security forces said.

The 41-year-old worker was kidnapped as he was heading to work in the coastal region of Jounieh.

Security forces identified the vehicle used in the kidnapping and raided a property in the Ghazir district the following day.

The kidnap victim was found blindfolded and handcuffed inside a bathroom.

Two 31-year-old Indian nationals were arrested at the property. The 33-year-old ringleader of the gang was arrested in the nearby town of Kafr Habab. 

The three men told security forces they carried out the kidnapping as part of a ransom plot.

During the investigation, the kidnap victim said he had been tortured by the kidnappers, who attempted to hang him after demanding his girlfriend pay a ransom.

Security forces said the kidnapping last month highlighted the ability of overseas workers to form active gangs.

Last March, security forces broke up a Bangladeshi network selling a drug known as yaba — tablets containing a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine.

Use of the drug is rising among the Bangladeshi community in Lebanon and has started to spread among young Lebanese, according to security forces. 

Bechara Asmar, president of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers, estimated there were 200,000 Bangladeshi and Indian workers in Lebanon. 

“They are self-contained communities and live in groups that are divided between Jounieh, Dora and Tayouna,” he told Arab News.

“These workers are being recruited to work in petrol stations, supermarkets, parks and environmental businesses,” Asmar said. Some of these workers are craftsmen who work in carpentry, the aluminum industry and embroidery.

A security official said the three detainees in the kidnap case will be referred to the Lebanese judiciary for trial.

The three will not be extradited because the alleged crime was committed on Lebanese territory.