LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Easter Sunday
Mark 16,1-8/"When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For April 20/14
Have GCC countries reached reconciliation/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/April 20/14
Murder, terrorism or anything but terrorism/By: Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/April 20/14
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For April 20/14
Lebanese Related News
Al-Rahi Calls for Election of President who Meets People's Aspirations
LF Delegation Meets with Aoun over Geagea's Presidential Nomination
Machnouk holds talk with Hezbollah to help border village
Salameh: Central Bank must be isolated from politics
Hezbollah sees Geagea candidacy as problematic
Top Egypt censor quits after Wehbe film pulled
Security plan is treatment, not cure: scholars
Al-Jadeed protests STL decision
'Extremist' Syrians Arrested in Bekaa Ambush
Two Children Killed, Three Injured in Dynamite Explosion in Akkar
Berri Keen to Keep Presidential Elections as Lebanese as Possible
Report: Hariri's Return Likely but Still Linked to Security
Jumblat Will Choose Presidential Candidate 'at Last Minute'
Report: March 8 Opts against Nominating Aoun for President, May Propose Emile Rahme
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Iran: Row with world powers over Arak reactor 'virtually solved'
Obama codifies stance against Iranian diplomat for UN post
Liberman slams EU's Ashton for remarks on Israeli measures against Palestinians
Will Bill Clinton’s grandchildren be Jewish
French journalists free after Syria hostage ordeal
Car bombs kill at least 10 in central Syria
Syria’s Deir al-Zour tribes prepare to fight ISIS
Ukraine calls Easter truce as separatists hold firm
Putin: Nothing Should Impede Normalization of Russia-West Relations
French Journalists Free after 10-Month Syria Hostage Ordeal
Boko Haram Claims Nigeria Capital Bombing
Halleluiah, Jesus Has Risen
By: Elias Bejjani
"If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable" (Corinthians15/19)
On this holy day, of Resurrection, we are ought to be aware that for our prayers to be looked upon and heard by Almighty God, we are required to reconcile with with all others on whom we have inflicted pain and injustice, and treated them with an evil manner. To please the Lord we are required to genuinely, heartily and overtly perform all required acts of repentance for all our mischievous conducts and wrongdoings. We are requires to pray and pray and pray.
"Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions" (Mark 11/24-26)
How great is the need nowadays, to understand the meaning and message of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly fast pace of life, merciless competition, detachment from almighty God and materialism, have turned us into mere robots and a bunch of spiritually crippled human beings, consumed by greed, selfishness and the lust for earthly pleasures and treasures.
Because of lack of both faith and hope our thoughts and actions are dominated, obsessed and directed by trifle material and earthly matters and concerns. In the midst of all this faith, moral and ethical havoc, we have forgotten that we are the sons and daughters of Almighty God, and that He has created us in His image and likeness and made our bodies a temple for Him.
For our salvation, "He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead." (Creed)
The rising again of Jesus from the dead, and His ascending into heaven are the resurrection miracle that the church celebrates on the Easter Day. Resurrection is the cornerstone, the pillar, the heart, the foundation, and the core of the Christian faith. Those who claim to be Christians, no matter to what denomination or church they belong, are not actually Christians if they doubt or do not totally believe in the resurrection. Plainly, and simply resurrection is Christianity and Christianity is resurrection.
Easter Sunday (Resurrection) is a holy feast of love, humility, forgiveness, brotherhood, tolerance and repentance. Religiously worshipers are not to participate in any of these feast prayers or make any offerings or receive the Holy Communion unless they willingly replace hatred with love, grudges with forgiveness, rejection of others with tolerance, arrogance with humility, greed with contentment, deception with transparency, and wickedness with righteousness.
On this Holy Day of Resurrection, we need to be aware that Jesus' Holy blood was shed on the Cross for our sake. Remembrance of His death and resurrection is a Godly consignment that we are entrusted with. It’s up to us either to honour this trust or betray it.
In regards to what is committed to us, Saint Paul conveyed to his disciple Timothy the following advice: "Timothy, guard that which is committed to you, turning away from the empty chatter and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith". (6/20-21):
Resurrection, this pivotal liturgical fact was strongly stressed by all the Apostles, especially by Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians. He said: "Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death". (15/12-26):
Lord Jesus who died on the cross, had risen from the dead on the third day just as He has said while proclaiming His message. He triumphed over death, defeated the forces of darkness, overcame pain, abolished anguish and brought despair to an end. He rose from the tomb to be constantly with those faithful to Him throughout their lives, and to never abandon them. He shall empower forever those who believe in His message and observe His commandments with the spirit of truth, knowledge, wisdom and solidarity with His Father, Almighty God.
Do not be afraid, “Don’t be amazed", with these reassuring and soothing words The Angel spoke to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They had came to the tomb on Sunday morning to mummify and anoint Jesus' Body as the Jewish tradition required. They thought death had defeated Jesus and ended His life as it does to every human being. On their way, they were sadly thinking and wondering who will roll for them the stone away from the tomb's entrance so they can get in and perform the mummifying and anointing process. While halfway from the tomb, they saw that the enormous stone had been rolled away. When they entered the tomb they found that Jesus' body was not there. They found only the shrouds that His body was wrapped with on His burial after the crucifixion.
Through Crucifixion and resurrection, Christ has overcome death, broke its thorn, and granted us His eternal forgiveness from the original sin. With His death and resurrection, death in its traditional earthly human concept has been abolished forever and Sin since then has become the actual death that leads the sinners to Gahanna into the unquenchable fire.
When our bodies die, we sleep in the hope of resurrection. On Jesus' return on the Day of Judgment, the dead will be the first to rise and escort Him. "Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed", (Corinthians 15/ 51-52).
Christ is the Way, Christ is the Truth, and Christ is the actual eternal life that we long for. We strongly believe with full conviction that Christ dwells in His Holy Church, and exists in its Mysteries (Sacraments). He is always present in the Holy Eucharist that we receive during every mass. Christ at all times is ready, willing and delighted to help us in our burdens when we call on Him and ask for His mercy.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew11/28)
If we do not learn how to tame our selfishness, anger, hatred and forgive others for whatever evil deeds they commit against us and reconcile with them, than we do not qualify to be called Jesus' followers. Our prayers will not be heard or responded to, if we do not practice the grace of forgiveness as did He who was crucified for our salvation.
“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift". (Matthew 5/23-24). Our resurrection through Jesus Christ occurs today and lives on in each day of our life.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten and empower us on this Holy day just as with the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.
Let us all proudly proclaim that Christ is living in us and with us, Christ has truly risen and we are witnesses to His resurrection!
Happy Easter to all, and especially to my dear and beloved family members, relatives, supporters, friends and readers.
Halleluiah! Jesus has risen! Indeed He has risen.
Al-Rahi Calls for Election of
President who Meets People's Aspirations
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi hoped that the needed quorum at parliament would be met to elect a new president. He said during his Easter address: “We hope for the election of a responsible president, who is chosen through the necessary consultations.” “Lawmakers should exercise the duty, bestowed upon them by the people, to elect a president who is best suited for Lebanon,” he stressed. “The entire world is watching the parliament and hopes that the MPs will meet the necessary quorum,” the patriarch noted. “We urge cabinet and parliament to exercise their political duties,” al-Rahi demanded, hoping that the new president will be up to the challenges facing Lebanon. “The new reality in Lebanon requires officials to organize public life and properly administer state affairs,” he continued. “The new reality requires the preservation of the state and its people through meeting their needs,” remarked the patriarch. To that end, al-Rahi demanded that all pending issues be “seriously and comprehensively” resolved through cabinet and parliament. Speaker Nabih Berri called parliament to convene on April 23 in order to elect a new president. Any candidate must secure two-thirds of votes to win in the first round of elections, while 65 votes are needed for the second round. Berri has expressed his skepticism that quorum will be met during Wednesday's session, saying that the conditions for it are “not ripe yet.”Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is so far the only official to submit his candidacy for the presidential elections. The March 8 camp has not yet announced its candidate, but recent reports said that it may nominate MP Emile Rahme.
LF Delegation Meets with Aoun over Geagea's Presidential Nomination
Naharnet/A Lebanese Forces delegation met with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Saturday afternoon, and handed him over a copy of the LF leader's presidential program.
The delegation included MPs Sethrida Geagea, Joseph al-Maalouf, Fadi Karam, former minister Toni Karam and member of the party's Executive Committee Eddy Abi al-Lamaa. Party officials have been holding talks with different parties and leaders in the country to hand them over LF leader Samir Geagea's presidential program, and to discuss the upcoming elections. LF sources told MTV on Friday that a meeting with Hizbullah officials will be requested for the same purpose as well. "We will request an appointment to meet with Hizbullah officials as well but we are not sure they will be responsive. But we have to do but we have to do," the sources said. On Wednesday, Geagea announced a presidential program that focused on “restoring the authority of the state against the proliferation of weapons during a time of regional unrest.”The LF chief also called for a state monopoly on the use of force, including confronting Israel. He is the sole politician to have officially announced his candidacy for the polls, which are first scheduled to be held on April 23. Speaker Nabih Berri called on MPs to meet next Wednesday, although the election is not expected to be an easy process amid a lack of agreement on a consensual candidate. President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ends on May 25.
Jumblat Will Choose Presidential Candidate 'at Last Minute'
Naharnet/Head of the National Struggle Front MP Walid Jumblat ruled out the possibility of the nomination of MPs Henri Helou or Fouad al-Saad for the presidential elections, saying that he will not declare his candidate at the moment, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday. He explained: “I will choose the candidate at the last moment and after consulting my conscience and political partners.”These consultations include talks with Speaker Nabih Berri and the Mustaqbal Movement, he added after a National Struggle Front meeting on Friday. He expressed his preference for a candidate with clear presidential programs, especially one who focuses on social and economic issues. “I cannot vote for a ghost,” he said. Berri had called parliament to convene on Wednesday in order to elect a president.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is so far the only official to submit his candidacy for the elections. The March 8 camp has not yet announced its candidate, but recent reports said that it may nominate MP Emile Rahme. Other reports had said that Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel may be running in the polls, but he is yet to make an official announcement.
Report: March 8 Opts against Nominating Aoun for President, May Propose Emile Rahme
Naharnet /The March 8 camp is preparing a series of “surprises” for Wednesday's parliamentary session to elect a president, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday without elaborating. This does not however include the nomination of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, said March 8 sources. They explained that the camp opted against this option because the lawmaker seeks to be a “consensual presidential candidate among all political powers, while keeping in mind that the March 14 alliance will not vote for him.”The National Struggle Front of MP Walid Jumblat, as well as MPs Marwan Hamadeh, Antoine Saad, Fouad al-Saad, and Henri Helou, will not vote for him either. The March 8 camp has therefore chosen the possible nomination of MP Emile Rahme instead of Aoun, reported the daily An Nahar Saturday. It revealed that Aoun is unlikely to attend Wednesday's presidential elections session “unless an agreement is reached to nominate him as a consensual candidate.”
Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun explained to An Nahar that the FPM is seeking a “productive parliamentary session, not a superficial one.” Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is so far the only official to submit his candidacy for the elections. The March 8 camp has not yet announced its candidate. Media reports had said that Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel may be running in the polls, but he is yet to make an official announcement. Kataeb MP Elie Marouni assured on Thursday that Gemayel is a “natural candidate in the presidential race, because the party sees in him a strong and popular president.”
Report: Hariri's Return Likely but Still Linked to Security
Naharnet/Following media reports that head of al-Mustaqbal Movement Saad Hariri will return to Lebanon for the presidential elections, prominent sources in the Movement said that the former PM's comeback is linked to the security situation in Lebanon and to the prospects of holding the elections, al-Joumhuria daily reported in Saturday. “Prospects of Hariri's return to Beirut are likely, he announced more than once that he will be among us soon but the circumstances are not ready,” the sources said. “Guarantees on the security situation are not available yet and another part is related to the political horizon and the prospects of electing a president. All these factors are related to Hariri's return,”they added. On the other hand, contacts among the March 14 alliance are ongoing over the presidential elections. In that regard, adviser of al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Nader Hariri left to Riyadh to brief the former PM on the latest consultations with al-Mustaqbal bloc head Fouad Saniora, PSP leader Walid Jumblat and March 14 officials. Saniora who is back from Jordan late Friday, took part in two-day diplomatic consultations where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Consultations will also highlight the final stance of al-Mustaqbal regarding their candidate for the presidential elections. Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Samir Jisr told the Voice of Lebanon radio station on Friday that Hariri might attend next week’s parliamentary session to elect a president. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is so far the only official to submit his candidacy for the elections. The March 8 camp has not yet announced its candidate. Hariri left Lebanon in early 2011, months after the collapse of his government. He has repeatedly cited security concerns for his absence.
Al-Jadeed protests STL decision
April 19, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Al-Jadeed TV officials complained that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was attempting to curb free speech in Lebanon, in a meeting with the National Audiovisual Media Council. In a meeting with Abdel-Hadi Mahfouz, head of the Council, senior officials at the station complained that a decision delivered to Lebanon by the STL reportedly demanding that local media refrain from reporting confidential information related to the court’s work undermined press freedoms. Lebanese media outlets, including Al-Jadeed, released last year a list of alleged STL witnesses, including names and pictures, that had been published online by an unknown organization. The STL appointed a special investigator, known as an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” to investigate the leak and media outlets that published the details of the witnesses. No indictments have been issued by the court in connection with the leak. Other international tribunals have prosecuted reporters for publishing confidential information. Mahfouz said that Lebanese outlets should not be held liable for publishing information that was leaked by tribunal staff, saying the court ought to investigate the leaks that have occurred on its own side.
Iran: Row with world powers over Arak reactor 'virtually solved'
By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
04/19/2014/Iran's nuclear energy chief claimed on Saturday that nuclear talks with six world powers had "virtually solved" a dispute over the Arak heavy-water reactor, which the West fears could yield bomb-grade material in the future, AFP reported. Ali Akbar Salehi - the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran - was reported as saying the the P5+1 powers had agreed to a proposal presented by Iran to alter the course of production at the plant. "Iran has made a proposal to the P5+1 to make certain changes in Arak and they have accepted. This question is virtually resolved," Salehi was quoted as telling the Arabic-language al-Alam TV. The fate of the heavy-water plant, which has not yet been completed, is one of the central issues in negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers aimed at reaching a long-term deal on Tehran's nuclear program by an agreed July 20 deadline. Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China on Wednesday ended their last round of negotiation in Vienna and said they would start drafting an agreement at their next meeting there on May 13. But officials said significant gaps needed to be bridged. Following the latest round of talks, Salehi announced that Iran had made the proposal that would significantly lower highly-radioactive plutonium production at the Arak research reactor, signalling flexibility on a key issue in talks to end the nuclear dispute with world powers. The comment was the latest sign that a compromise may be possible over the disputed reactor, which the West fears could yield weapons-usable plutonium. Iran denies any such aim. The website of Iran's English-language state television Press TV, citing Salehi late on Wednesday, said Iran had offered a "scientific and logical proposal to clear up any ambiguities" over the Arak reactor. "In our plan, we explained that we would redesign the heart of the Arak reactor, so that its production of plutonium will decrease drastically," Salehi was quoted as saying.
RUSSIA SEES ARAK COMPROMISE
The West is worried that Arak, once operational, could provide a supply of plutonium - one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can trigger a nuclear blast.
The Islamic Republic has said that the 40-megawatt reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments. It agreed to halt installation work at Arak under a six-month interim accord struck on Nov. 24 which was designed to buy time for negotiations on a comprehensive deal. Russia's chief negotiator suggested after the April 8-9 talks that progress had been achieved on Arak. "The possibility of a compromise on this issue has grown," Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying. Heavy-water reactors like Arak, fueled by natural uranium, are seen as especially suitable for yielding plutonium. To do so, however, a spent fuel preprocessing plant would also be needed to extract it. Iran is not known to have any such plant. If operating optimally, Arak - located about 250 km (150 miles) southwest of Tehran - could produce about nine kg of plutonium annually, the US Institute for Science and International Security says. Any deal must lower that amount, Western experts say. Last week, Princeton University experts said that annual plutonium production could be cut to less than a kilogram - well below the roughly 8 kg needed for an atomic bomb - if Iran altered the way Arak is fueled and lowered its power capacity.
Syria’s Deir al-Zour tribes prepare to fight ISIS
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 19 April 2014
Tribes in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour have begun recruiting hundreds of fighters in readiness to battle rebels from the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Saturday. Tribesmen in three villages in Deir al-Zour’s northern countryside issued a joint statement warning that whoever was helping ISIS will be targeted after the radical jihadist group claimed control of areas near the towns of al-Sour and Markada in the eastern province. ISIS has been fighting the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and other Islamic groups in Deir al-Zour in the province for weeks over territory in Abu Kamal town which was previously captured from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, including oil fields. Last week an activist from Deir al-Zour told the Associated Press that Nusra Front fighters and their allies brought reinforcements into Abu Kamal city and forced out ISIS gunmen after midnight. While fighters in Deir al-Zour have succeeded in pushing away ISIS, the tribes expect an imminent assault from the jihadist group especially from the al-Sour and Markada towns where it launched its attacks in early April.
According to the statement, the tribes rejected conditions by ISIS, which stipulated whoever wants to stop fighting should be disarmed. “Tribes in Deir al-Zour were always disarmed, even before the revolution,” Fahad al-Furati, an activist from the eastern province, told Al Arabiya News Channel on Saturday. Furati added: “Thousands are deployed in the countryside of Deir al-Zour and ready to fight.”The tribes have joined list of others who are against ISIS such as the Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army and the Kurds. Syrian rebels initially welcomed battle-hardened jihadists to their struggle, but Islamist and non-Islamist groups alike turned on ISIS after it began kidnapping, torturing and killing activists and rival rebels, and imposing its strict version of Islam by force.
An interview for al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, which the SITE monitoring service dated to between February and April, was released. In the interview Zawahiri called for unity amid widening divisions with a rival jihadist organization rooted in the Syrian civil war. The interview was released after ISIS accused al-Qaeda of having “deviated from the correct path.” “They have divided the ranks of the mujahideen [holy warriors] in every place,” ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said in a statement posted on jihadist forums. Syria’s uprising began with peaceful protests in March 2011 but escalated into an insurgency and then a civil war after the regime launched a brutal crackdown on dissent. More than 150,000 people have been killed since the revolt began.
Have GCC countries reached reconciliation?
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Statements released following the latest meeting between foreign ministers of the GCC countries in Riyadh said the diplomats conducted “an overall review of the procedures in place pertaining to foreign and security policies,” and that the group “agreed to adopt mechanisms to guarantee a collective framework and to ensure that policies of any of the GCC countries would not affect the interests, security and stability of the countries, nor undermine their sovereignty.”In this regard, the diplomats have confirmed their respective countries' agreement on the ways to implement the Riyadh agreement, which is based on the principles of the GCC statute. Of course, it is impossible that anyone can truly understand these statements without using an interpreter. Vagueness is our preferred language in the Gulf, relying on signs, and a sign is all that a free man needs to understand. “The stability of the GCC countries is a very important element, not only to its people, but to the region as a whole; a region that’s in desperate need for a safety net and stability. And if these forces, which might look weak and calm, decided to join hands and unify their policies, they could change the face of the region for the better.”
In fact, decrypting the statement is quite a difficult task. How would someone understand the meaning of “agreeing on the importance of the strict implementation of the commitments undertaken” when the statement doesn’t define what should be implemented and what commitments were made?
It goes without saying that Kuwait played a positive role to stop the defragmentation of the GCC council, the last stable entity in the region.
Prior to Kuwaiti mediation, the dispute was quickly slipping into a point of no return after three countries recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in protest and there were plans to impose sanctions, a move which would extend far beyond the previous symbolic and diplomatic measures. The expression of “strict implementation” shows us that there are specific measures that need to be taken and that there is a team who is responsible for overseeing the implementation. Without announcing the annexes of the agreement, the door will remain open to speculate on the banned and tolerated activities.
Some of the reasons behind the dispute between Qatar and its three GCC peers, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, are known and publicly debated, and are possibly the easiest to resolve. Others, however, are less palpable and could lead to the collapse of the GCC and the Gulf front. The disputes between GCC countries are as wide as the map of the Middle East; from Egypt to Yemen, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, but the hidden disputes can go as deep as sovereignty itself! Whether the Riyadh agreement represents a true reconciliation between the countries or is just simply pacification, the leaders of the GCC countries have a major responsibility to admit that the value of their council is greater than their trillions’ rich investment funds, established for rainy days. In the days of calm, it’s easy to mess with relations and turn differences into greater disputes and political games, but nobody knows when the dark clouds will accumulate and a storm will hit. The stability of the GCC countries is a very important element, not only to its people, but to the region as a whole; a region that’s in desperate need for a safety net and stability. And if these forces, which might look weak and calm, decided to join hands and unify their policies, they could change the face of the region for the better. **This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 19, 2014.
Murder, terrorism or anything but terrorism?
Saturday, 19 April 2014 /Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya
Terrorism is as old as organized human society. The tiny Greek city-states suffered from it as well as the mighty Roman Empire and every subsequent empire and great power, including the United States. Yet, there is no single, universally accepted definition of terrorism. But many would agree that any definition of terrorism should include these elements in the U.S. federal code which define it as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Terrorism therefore is a tool, a tactic and not an ideology. That’s why there are left wing and right wing terrorists. Throughout the history of organized religion terrorists have killed with abandon, driven by their twisted interpretation of what they believed to be the absolutist certainty conferred upon them and their deeds by Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other religions.
What’s in a name? There is a long history of political violence and “homegrown” terrorism in the United States carried out by once powerful and relatively large groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) which was established in 1865 after the Civil War by defeated Confederate officers who believed in white racial superiority. The KKK employed terroristic tactics on a wide scale against African Americans, conducting night time raids to kill, intimidate and destroy property. Many of their victims were brutally lynched publicly for maximum effect.
There were other terrorist groups on the left and the right that engaged in bombings, assassinations, along with the occasional lone wolf terrorist like the infamous Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and the most infamous pair of U.S. terrorists in the 20th century: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 which killed 168 people.
Four sitting American presidents have been assassinated and six were targets of assassination attempts. Scores of governors, senators, representatives and mayors were assassinated or were targets of violent acts. The 20th century was marred by waves of violence: at the turn of the century, the 1920’s and 1930’s, and the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Yet most American scholars, historians and journalists rarely describe the groups or the assassins, even when their motives are political and ideological, as terrorists. For most Americans, terrorism is an international phenomenon and terrorists are usually foreigners.
Zealots, Hashhasheen, and freedom fighters
Not all terrorists are alike, since their motives vary widely. History is full of examples of national and popular political movements fighting to achieve legitimate objectives such as independence or resisting authoritarian rule and employing at times the illegitimate tools of terrorism as an integral part of the struggle. This has been true since the so-called Jewish Zealots fought Roman occupation all the way to the modern struggles of the Algerian, South African, Irish, Palestinian and other peoples for self-determination. A political horizon is usually required to settle these struggles.
“Just as al-Qaeda’s twisted vision of establishing an Islamic Caliphate based on an atavistic, violent and intolerant interpretation of Islam is frightening and impossible to achieve, likewise the vision of some American right wing and racist groups of wishing away Muslims and Jews and reasserting and reestablishing “white supremacy” is equally frightening and impossible to achieve. ”
Here, a nationalist freedom fighter like Nelson Mandela was described by his enemies as a “terrorist,” before they changed their minds and joined the world in seeing him as the visionary statesman that he was. However, throughout history there has been another strain of terrorism that is rooted in nihilistic impulses, apocalyptic visions, and religious cults let by charismatic leaders.
This is true of the so-called assassins (from the Arabic Hashhashin) of medieval Persia and Syria established a secret society and dispatched young Fida’is to assassinate their enemies, preferably in broad daylight in suicide attacks.
This phenomena took place all the way to the anarchists of 19th century Europe, who terrorized every political order on the continent from Madrid to Moscow, to the Shining Path in Peru who engaged in gruesome ritualistic killings, and the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo, infamous for their sarin attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, and ultimately to al-Qaeda and its affiliates today.
For these groups there cannot be an acceptable political horizon since their visions are so nihilistic and irrational that it is impossible to reconcile them in any political arrangement.
The assassins employed the dagger as their preferred weapon, the anarchists of 19th century Europe employed the bomb and the pistol, and al-Qaeda employed civilian airplanes as missiles on 9/11. The weapons and the tools of terrorism are varied and different, but in all of these cases the terrorists were driven by the same nihilistic, absolutist impulses.
To fully understand the immense influence of terrorism and anarchist discourse and actions on European societies, politics, literature, and the arts all you have to do is to check some of the best novels written by the greats such as Dostoyevsky (Demons, The Brother Karamazov) Zola (Germinal, including the amazing terrorist character Souvarine), Turgenev (Fathers and sons) who popularized the concept of nihilism, and others like Dickens and Balzac.
Terror on a quiet Sunday afternoon
Last Sunday an elderly man with extensive history of preaching and practicing hate against Jews and African-Americans, went on the prowl to hunt for Jews on the eve of Passover. The quiet of Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, was shattered when Glen Miller,73, armed with a shot gun and a pistol stopped at two Jewish centers and fired at people randomly, hoping to kill as many Jews as possible.
When the brief rampage stopped a doctor, his 14- year old grandson, and an elderly woman were killed. While sitting in a police car, Miller reportedly yelled to a local television camera “Heil Hitler.” We don’t know if Miller understands irony, since his three victims turned out to be Christians.
Miller had several run-ins with the law and served prison sentences on charges of weapons possession, assassination attempt and intimidating African-Americans. He believes that Jews control the government and that they are committing “genocide against the white race.” He even described himself in a radio interview as a “proud terrorist.” In 1980 when he founded the White Patriot Party, he said that its goal was “the creation of an all-white nation” in the South.
Anything but Terror
The word “terrorism” was never used by either law enforcement agencies or the media in connection with Miller’s pre-meditated violence against civilians because (he thought) they belong to a specific community. The act was described by the media as a “shooting spree” and a “terrible outburst of violence.”
The suspected killer was described as an “avowed anti-Semite,” an “extremist” and a the preferred designation of many reports: a “lone wolf.” No one referred to Miller as a terrorist or to his action as terrorism, although the violence seems to be in accordance with the Justice Department’s definition of terrorism, since it was politically and ideologically motivated, premeditated, directed at civilians who belong to a certain group, and was meant to reverberate beyond the immediate victims and terrorize the wider community they belong to.
Miller was charged with one count of capital murder and with first-degree premeditated murder. These charges give prosecutors, the option of seeking the death penalty. It is possible also, that Miller could be charged later with committing a hate crime. This is a more serious crime and could lead to federal involvement because these crimes are committed on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity and gender and like terrorism their intent is to terrorize a wider group or community beyond the immediate victims of violence.
It is very likely, if the killer was not Miller, but a fictitious Muslim American named Mohammad Hussein Mustapha, who while killing his supposedly Jewish victims shouted “Allah Akbar,” the media, law enforcement and the public would have describe it as an act of domestic terrorism carried out by an Islamic extremist.
Terror in Boston
Miller’s bloody trail near Kansas City occurred on the eve of the first anniversary of the Boston bombing which was perpetrated by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev two Muslim brothers of Chechen background. There was no doubt even before the identity of the Tsarnaev brothers was revealed that the Boston bombing, maybe because the attackers used explosives (albeit not very sophisticated ones) was an act of terror. Anyone who had any doubt became certain that the Tsarnaevs are terrorists and their act was terrorism when their identity, history and contacts were established. The Boston bombing killed 3 people, like the Kansas killing, and both attacks were politically and ideologically motivated, and they were directed at civilians, with the intention to terrorize a larger community.
The Tsarnaev brothers were not members of any known terrorist organization, but they saw themselves as soldiers in an international army or a movement with an ideology, a world view and engaged in protracted struggle against those who are responsible directly for the agony of Chechnya and those they consider complicit in its pain. Likewise, Miller’s membership or lack thereof of any violent group is immaterial, because he was acting as if he is representative of a larger group driven by a specific world view, a broader movement that has a clear set of enemies that should be terrorized.
It seems that there is political resistance on the part of the government and the media to calling Miller’s action terrorism, and lawyers and legal scholars are quick to obfuscate and resort to “legalese” to avoid using “terrorism.” To designate violent groups like the KKK a terrorist organization, and acts by individuals like Miller and the Tsarnaev as terrorists, is important legally and more importantly, politically.
Such designation will force the authorities to deal with this strain of domestic terrorism with more urgency and resources, after all since the 9/11 terrorist attacks the U.S. has been on war footing against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in large swaths of lands, and not only in the Muslim world.
Just as al-Qaeda’s twisted vision of establishing an Islamic Caliphate based on an atavistic, violent and intolerant interpretation of Islam is frightening and impossible to achieve, likewise the vision of some American right wing and racist groups of wishing away Muslims and Jews and reasserting and reestablishing “white supremacy” is equally frightening and impossible to achieve.
Terrorism is ubiquitous; it is not only an international or Islamist phenomenon and it has established roots and branches in the U.S. just as elsewhere. Terrorism unfortunately cannot be eradicated because there will always be men and women who are willing to die for an idea, a vision or become intoxicated by a charismatic leader.
Recognizing that there are homegrown terrorists among us, that we need to understand, confront and defeat, will go a long way in correcting the skewed discourse on terrorism in America, and will help ultimately in giving the United States a much better immune system.