LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Preserve Your Freedom
Galatians 05 /01-14: " Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, it means that Christ is of no use to you at all. Once more I warn any man who allows himself to be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the whole Law. Those of you who try to be put right with God by obeying the Law have cut yourselves off from Christ. You are outside God's grace. As for us, our hope is that God will put us right with him; and this is what we wait for by the power of God's Spirit working through our faith. For when we are in union with Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor the lack of it makes any difference at all; what matters is faith that works through love. You were doing so well! Who made you stop obeying the truth? How did he persuade you? It was not done by God, who calls you. “It takes only a little yeast to make the whole batch of dough rise,” as they say. But I still feel confident about you. Our life in union with the Lord makes me confident that you will not take a different view and that whoever is upsetting you will be punished by God. But as for me, my friends, if I continue to preach that circumcision is necessary, why am I still being persecuted? If that were true, then my preaching about the cross of Christ would cause no trouble. I wish that the people who are upsetting you would go all the way; let them go on and castrate themselves! As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another. For the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” But if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other, then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources published on August 08/14
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, ISIS and Hezbollah/By:
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/August
Understanding ISIS’ dicey battle in Lebanon/By: Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/August 08/14
World Ignores Christian Exodus from Islamic World/By: Raymond Ibrahim/August 08/14
In some wars, both sides lose/By: Nahum Barnea/Ynetnews/August 08/14
Lebanese Related News published on August 08/14
Huge Destruction in Arsal after Militant Retreat,
Muslim Scholars' Delegation Loses Contact with Troop Kidnappers
Lebanese Cabinet Orders Recruitment of 12,000 Army, Security Forces Members
Report: Aoun Won't Budge on Presidential Crisis
Syrian Ambassador Abdul Karim Ali: Cooperation is a Must between Lebanon, Syria
Patriarchs decry Christian exodus, demand UN act
Qahwaji Lauds Latest Saudi Financial Aid to Enhance Lebanon's Security Situation
Bishops of Oriental Churches Demand Issuing Fatwas Banning Attacks against Christians
At Least One Killed, 10 Wounded in Tripoli Bomb Explosion
Militants leave Arsal but take Lebanese soldiers
Lebanese Cabinet approves 11,000 new security personnel
Efforts underway to free captured Lebanese soldiers
Syrian envoy calls for Syrian-Lebanese coordination
Hariri backs Eastern bishops' call to protect Christians
Kahwagi: Saudi grant vital in fighting terror
Nazarian to delay gas auction again
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 08/14
ISIS seizes Iraq’s largest Christian town
White House won't comment on possible air strikes in
Kurdish fighters rescue some Yazidis stranded on Iraq mountain
Maliki’s Last Option
France says ready to offer technical support to Iraqi Kurdish forces
Who Won in Gaza?
For Cairo deal, Israel calls for ban in Gaza on all but light arms, free hand against tunnels, rocket plants
Netanyahu: Israel safer after operation
Senior diplomatic source: Israel will respond to rocket
Hamas: If Gaza blockade isn't lifted, we'll renew fire Friday
Obama: Gaza cannot remain closed off
Children pay heavy price in Gaza's war
Turkey seeks air corridor to Gaza to help
Iron Dome commander: We saved lives
Iran saving Hamas from bankruptcy
Foreign press gives mixed accounts of Hamas intimidation in Gaza
In Gaza, there are no 'innocent civilians'
Foreign journalists reveal Hamas' false front
Israel won't tolerate Erdogan's tirades after Turkey election, Liberman says
Islamic State extends gains in north Iraq, Kirkuk bombed
The 1933 Simmele Massacre of Assyrians in Iraq Because of the Simmele Massacre,
Assyrians Commemorate Martyrs Day As History Repeats Itself
200,000 Assyrians Have Fled the Nineveh Plain in the Last 24 Hours
ISIS Captures Iraq's Largest Christian Town
Canada Condemns ISIS for Ongoing Violence in Northern Iraq
Third Wave of Assisted Departures of Canadians from Gaza
No more pants in church? Egypt women reject ban
The Chances of a Third World War
Militants leave Arsal but take
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 7 August 2014
Islamist militants withdrawing from the Lebanese border town of Arsal took captive Lebanese soldiers with them as they crossed into the border zone with Syria, Reuters reported militant and Lebanese security sources as saying on Thursday. The army has said 22 of its soldiers are missing. Before leaving Arsal, the militants freed seven Lebanese soldiers on Thursday after a truce deal, Agence France-Presse reported the official National News Agency as saying. The NNA said the seven were freed in an army operation, although there was no immediate confirmation from the military. The releases came after a delegation of Sunni clerics said it had negotiated a deal under which militants who have been fighting the army in the area since Saturday would withdraw and turn over prisoners. On Wednesday night, chief negotiator Sheikh Hossam al-Ghali said the militants, believed to be from several jihadist groups operating in Syria, had begun retreating. “Fighters in Arsal have started to head across the Lebanese border” into Syria, Ghali said. He said a ceasefire would be in place until 7:00 pm on Thursday (1600 GMT), following an agreement between Lebanon's prime minister, the army and other parties. Another negotiator and fellow cleric, Samih Ezzedine, said the militants had agreed "to leave Arsal completely within 24 hours". “They asked not to be shot at as they withdraw, and if that happens the whole agreement will be in jeopardy,” he said. “All the prisoners are alive and despite difficult negotiations we have clear and positive promises they will be released. I hope that will happen on Thursday,” Ezzedine said.
Army assessing situation
Meanwhile, the Lebanese army was assessing on Thursday whether the militants had withdrawn overnight as part of the agreement, a security source told Reuters. The source said there was no fighting on Thursday morning in the border town of Arsal but that the army had killed 14 Islamist militants during fighting on Wednesday evening, responding to a breach of the new extended 24-hour ceasefire. He said three policemen, members of the Internal Security Forces, who were captured earlier this week by the gunmen were found in a hospital on the southern edges of Arsal. “The army is investigating whether the gunmen have all withdrawn from Arsal in accordance with the agreement between the government and the Muslim Clerics Association,” he said on condition of anonymity. He added that the army has not yet entered Arsal. Arsal is the first major incursion into Lebanon by hardline Sunni militants - leading players in Sunni-Shi'ite violence unfolding across the Levant - which threatens the stability of Lebanon by inflaming its own sectarian tensions. (With AFP and Reuters)
Bishops of Oriental Churches Demand
Issuing Fatwas Banning Attacks against Christians
Naharnet/The bishops of Oriental Churches on Thursday demanded Muslim religious authorities to issue fatwas banning attacks against Christians and “other innocents” in the East, urging also parties financing terrorist organizations “to immediately stop arming” these extremist groups. “We call on Muslim religious authorities, Sunnis and Shiites, to issue fatwas banning attacks against Christians and other innocents,” Beirut Maronite Bishop Boulos Matar said after a congregation of the bishops of Oriental Churches at Diman, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's summer seat. The conferees discussed the situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria, amid the rising threat of extremist jihadists who are occupying large parts of these neighboring countries and persecuting Christian minorities there, giving them a choice between converting to Islam or leaving their lands. “The conferees discussed the rise of takfiri groups that are violating the sanctity of churches and attacking citizens,” Matar said.
He continued: “The situation reached a stage in which Christians were wrongly exiled from the lands of their ancestors without any justification. The expulsion of Christians from Mosul and Nineveh Province in Iraq is not an accident or a forced migration out of fear, but it is a decision taken by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and which is contrary to international charters.”
“We strongly deplore the expulsion of our sons from Mosul and Nineveh, regions that were known for religious coexistence,” the bishops said.
Commenting also on the suffering of Christians in Syria, the clerics slammed as a “violation of human rights” the “assassinations and the attacks against religious minorities in the village of Maaloula.”
"ISIL's decision is shocking and it is considered discrimination,” the bishops' statement declared. The bishops then called on the international community and Muslim and Arab leaders to deplore the treatment of Christians in Iraq and Syria, adding that “it is a shame that the Islamic and Arab stance is still weak in this regard and that it does not reflect the religious diversity of the region.”
"Christians of the East are subjected to prosecution amid international silence, and this is a shame,” they said. "The International Criminal Court's General Prosecutor has to immediately launch a probe and draw an end to what is happening,” they stated. In a related matter, the bishops criticized European countries' support for the arrival of the exiled Christian minorities of the East.
“We reject this because the U.N. Security Council should take a strict decision to compel the people who own the land to return back. We are not asking for anyone's protection but we have rights and we consider that nations should prevent any demographic change” in the region. The conferees also demanded regimes that “support, organize and arm terrorist organizations to stop their activities,” considering that religious extremism “will have negative consequences on those who did not resist it.”“Revealing who are the parties financing these extremist groups is a necessity,” they announced.
The Oriental Churches' bishops also tackled the abduction of bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, who were kidnapped in Syria at the end of April 2013.
“For one year and three months we have been waiting for the kidnapped bishops' return and we still insist that the reaction of the international community was not enough. We question the indifference towards this issue,” they said. After the bishops declared their stance on the latest developments in the region, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri released a statement hailing their call for rescuing the Christians of the East and considered that it should move “all Arab and Islamic leaders and regimes.”
Calls for issuing fatwas banning attacks against Christians “should be adopted by all moderate regimes and leaders who are responsible for resisting to this ideological and dogmatic invasion that harms the essence of Islam,” Hariri said. "How can the international community overlook the turmoil in the East and leave behind its values of civilization and religious coexistence?” he asked.
The Sunni leader then called on the Arab League to assume its responsibilities in the respect and to “find means to cooperate with the international community to end the ongoing crime in Iraq that aims at eliminating the presence of Arab Christians in the East, and at accusing Islam and Muslims of being behind this racist transgression.”"These acts only harm Islam," he said.
Huge Destruction in Arsal after
Militant Retreat, Muslim Scholars' Delegation Loses Contact with Troop
Naharnet/The Muslim Scholars Committee delegation tasked with mediating with jihadist gunmen in the northeastern town of Arsal announced on Thursday that it has lost contact with militants who have kidnapped army troops, but assured that it will stay in the Bekaa region until receiving information on the soldiers' whereabouts and well-being. "The issue of the abducted soldiers has not been resolved yet,” Sheikh Mohieddine Nasabayeh of the Muslim Scholars Committee said from Arsal, adding that the delegation will stay in the region until it receives information about the kidnapped troops.
He noted that the jihadist militants are now “in control of the communication efforts” with the scholars. "We have lost contact with the kidnappers because they retreated to the Arsal plains where there is no network connection. But despite this we will communicate with them,” he explained. Likewise, Imam of the Arsal mosque Sheikh Samih Ezzeddine, who is also a member of the Muslim Scholars' Committee delegation, confirmed to al-Jadeed television that communication with militants was halted because “their mobile phones were turned off.”Nasabayeh said that the militants never set any conditions for the soldiers' release, assuring also that the kidnapped troops are all “doing well.” But he said that not all information he has in this matter can be revealed and remarked that “everything is negotiable." “What prevents releasing the inmates held at Roumieh prison?” he asked. The Muslim Scholars Committee member also said that there is “no reason for opening fire in Arsal” anymore. “There are no gunmen here. Resorting to opening fire will result in a massacre as people are traveling in the region and inspecting houses,” he elaborated. Meanwhile, sources told LBCI television that as the ceasefire ends at 7:00 pm, “if the Muslims Scholars Committee returned without the abducted soldiers, the military operations might resume especially in the Arsal plains region” where the jihadist fighters have retreated to.
On ground, LBCI reported that several houses were destroyed in Arsal and that gunmen were no longer present in the region except in some hideouts.
LBCI also said that the humanitarian aid truck that was destined for Arsal has retreated back without delivering the aid because the residents of the town rejected receiving them.
Earlier in Thursday, the Lebanese army rescued seven Internal Security Forces members held by Islamist gunmen near Arsal after the jihadists withdrew from the area, the state-run National News Agency reported. The army's Airborne Regiment carried out the operation to free the policemen, who were being held in a house on the edge of Arsal by the terrorists that overran the town on Saturday.
Six ISF members were released by the militants in two batches in the past two days after Muslim scholars brokered a cease-fire in what has been the most serious spillover to date from Syria's civil war.
Scores of soldiers have been killed and injured in the fighting. A number of policemen and soldiers are missing or remain in captivity. Meanwhile, around 20 Red Cross ambulances entered Arsal in coordination with the Lebanese army and transported 44 people injured in the clashes between the army and jihadists to hospitals for treatment. NNA said the majority of them are Syrians. A delegation of Muslim scholars said it made a big progress in its mediation. "Most armed groups withdrew from Arsal and the crisis will end within hours,” said Sheikh Husam al-Ghali, a spokesperson for the Muslim Scholars Committee. The sheikh added that the committee will continue to negotiate the release of the captives. Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji confirmed the pullout, telling cabinet ministers that the jihadists withdrew to Syrian territories at 3:00 am. The army is in the town to transport the wounded soldiers, he said. The gunmen took the hostages with them, Qahwaji added. The capture of Arsal was the first time in Syria's conflict, now in its fourth year, that rebels seeking the overthrow of President Bashar Assad have carried out a large-scale incursion into Lebanon. The fighting has prompted Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji to call for more international aid, and on Tuesday night, al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri announced Saudi Arabia had pledged $1 billion. The new aid pledge came after Saudi Arabia and France said they would both work to speed up implementation of a separate $3 billion arms deal for Lebanon.
ISIS seizes Iraq’s largest Christian
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Thursday, 7 August 2014
Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, was seized by jihadist militants when Kurdish troops withdrew overnight, fleeing residents and clerics told Agence France-Presse Thursday.
“I now know that the towns of Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants,” Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, told AFP. Several residents contacted by AFP confirmed that the entire area in northern Iraq, home to a large part of the country’s Christian community, had fallen to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group. The towns were shelled in the past few days by ISIS militants. Some of them are less than 50 kilometers away from Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan. The towns are among many in the area where thousands of Christians who were forced to abandon their homes in the main northern city of Mosul last month had found refuge.
U.N. emergency meeting
Following the advances of ISIS fighters, the U.N. Security Council said it will hold an emergency meeting on Iraq, AFP reported. The talks are scheduled to begin at 2130 GMT, a diplomatic source said.
The meeting was requested by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier on Thursday. Fabius asked the international community to mobilize itself against the threat and bring help.Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande pledged his country’s “support” to forces battling ISIS in Iraq amid growing Western concern over an advance by the Sunni fighters. “The president confirmed that France was available to support forces engaged in this battle,” Hollande’s office said in a statement, after the French leader spoke about Iraq by telephone with the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani.
Also on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama is considering airstrikes and emergency relief airdrops to help 40,000 members of religious minorities in Iraq, who are trapped on a mountaintop after threats by ISIS militants, the New York Times reported, according to Reuters. Obama has been looking at a range of options, from dropping humanitarian supplies on Mount Sinjar to military strikes on fighters from ISIS who are at the base of the mountain, a senior administration official told the newspaper.(With AFP, AP and Reuters)
Lebanese Cabinet Orders Recruitment of 12,000 Army, Security Forces Members
Naharnet/The cabinet hailed on Thursday the army for protecting Lebanon against the assault of jihadists from Syria in the northeastern town of Arsal, announcing that it has approved an increase in the number of army and security forces recruits. Information Minister Ramzi Jreij announced that the cabinet approved the increase of recruits by 12,000.
Cabinet had convened under Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail. The meeting was attended by Army chief General Jean Qahwaji, Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, head of State Security Gen. George Qaraa and Army Intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Edmond Fadel.
Qahwaji informed the cabinet of the situation on the ground in Arsal and the measures taken by the army and security forces to combat the gunmen and restore peace in the town.
“The gunmen have started to withdraw from Arsal and aid convoys began entering the town in the morning,” he told the ministers. Clashes erupted between the army and Islamist gunmen over the weekend when the army arrested a prominent al-Nusra Front member. Scores of soldiers were killed and 80 wounded in the battles. Prime Minister Tammam Salam meanwhile informed cabinet of the efforts he carried out with the army to ensure the release of the detained soldiers and security forces held by the gunmen. They were taken hostage over the weekend. The premier also hailed Saudi Arabia's one billion dollar grant to the Lebanese army, saying it demonstrates King Abdullah's keenness on Lebanon.
Salam stressed the need to restore calm in Arsal after the end of the battles and address the social and humanitarian situation there. “A serious and calm debate over the factors that led to the battle should be kicked off in order to avert similar unrest in the future,” he added. In addition, cabinet agreed to task Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to follow up on the correction of official exams “to save the academic year and ensure that students enroll at universities.”
Ex-Lebanon MP dies from accidental
The Daily Star/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Former Tripoli MP Ahmad Hbous, who accidentally shot himself in the head last week while cleaning his gun, died Thursday. Haykel Hospital pronounced Hbous, 73, dead at 11:30 a.m. Hbous was taken to Haykel Hospital in the northern region of Koura on July 30 with a severe brain hemorrhage. "While he was cleaning his handgun in his room, he shot himself accidentally," Hbous' daughter had told police. She said the bullet pierced his nose and went into his brain. Hbous was first elected to Parliament in 1996, representing the Alawite seat in Tripoli. He had won 123,418 votes, which was the highest percentage in the history of parliamentary elections in the north. The former Tripoli MP was re-elected in 2000, serving in Parliament until 2004. He was married to Souad Mrash and had four children, Mohammad, Salem and two daughters, Sherine and Gigi. The former MP, a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is one of the most prominent figures among the Alawite sect. Hbous, who ran on former Interior Minister Sleiman Frangieh’s electoral list in the 2000 elections, also supported some opposition demands: namely holding parliamentary elections on time and an international probe into former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination. Hbous lobbied during the 1960s and 1970s for the Alawite sect’s right to participate in politics before the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War. The offshoot sect of Islam was integrated into Lebanese political life with the formulation of the Taif Accord - the peace deal that ended Lebanon’s 15-year Civil War. Taif stipulated that Alawites be granted two seats in Parliament (representing Akkar and Tripoli), two representatives to head governmental institutions and one diplomatic post
Saudi Arabia donates $1 billion in
assistance to Lebanese military and security organizations
The Daily Star/Saudi Arabia has issued a powerful, two-pronged signal of its stance on the security crisis gripping the Lebanese town of Arsal: the need to confront terrorist extremists, and the need to do so via state institutions. Only days ago, King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz issued a strong warning about the danger posed by extremists who claim to represent Islam, and the damage they are causing to the reputation of the faith of the world’s more than 1 billion Muslims. He also lamented the fact that his earlier warnings on the same topic failed to inspire meaningful follow-up on the part of the international community. Former premier Saad Hariri relayed the news that Saudi Arabia would contribute $1 billion in assistance to Lebanese military and security organizations to combat this growing threat, meaning that the kingdom is coupling its weighty words with meaningful deeds. Hariri noted that the resources would be going to the state, which bears the responsibility of eradicating the terrorist threat that is faced by Lebanon as well as the entire region. Saudi Arabia has made similar gestures of support to Lebanon, and it is the responsibility of Lebanese officials to ensure that the funds are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. The Army and security institutions have offered the ultimate sacrifice as they confront the extremists. The Lebanese people and their politicians must return the favor, by committing themselves to true national unity and ensuring that state institutions rise to the occasion. All of the country’s political factions should recognize the urgent need to put national interests ahead of the agendas of foreign countries, which have dragged Lebanon, against its will, into a destructive involvement in Syria’s war in recent years.
Syrian Ambassador Abdul Karim Ali:
Cooperation is a Must between Lebanon, Syria
Naharnet/Syria's ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali on Thursday criticized “those obstructing cooperation" between Lebanon and Syria," particularly after militants stormed the northeastern border town of Arsal. Syria and Lebanon “are two countries that share a geography and one people and there is one enemy lurking both nations,” Ali said in an interview on al-Manar television. "Cooperation is a must between the people and the armies of both countries and everyone should eliminate any obstructions that halt such a cooperation to avoid losses,” he stressed. If agreements concluded between both states were implemented, Lebanon would have been saved from the dangers haunting Arsal, and the cities of Akkar and Tripoli in the North, Ali added, noting that the latest developments in the Bekaa region “were planned and not related to the arrest of (Imad Ahmed) Joma.”"It is in Lebanon's interest not to divert from this path in confronting dangers,” he warned. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had declared on Wednesday that the Lebanese cabinet refuses to cooperate with Syria's armed forces on the Arsal clashes, explaining that Lebanon “will not position itself against the entire Syrian opposition.” Commenting on March 14's call for deploying international peacekeeping troops on the Lebanese-Syrian border, according to the stipulations of U.N. Security Council's resolution 1701, Ali said this should be implemented on the border with Israel only. "This serves the enemy lurking Lebanon, Syria and the region. It serves Israel,” he considered. Foreign militants invaded Arsal on Saturday upon the arrest of Jomaa, a member of the al-Qaida-inspired al-Nusra Front. Since then, clashes erupted between the gunmen and army troops, resulting in the martyrdom of scores of soldiers and the injury of over 80 others.
Report: Aoun Won't Budge on Presidential Crisis
Naharnet/A Free Patriotic Movement official has said that MP Michel Aoun rejected an offer made by Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat to pull his candidacy for the presidency in favor of a compromise candidate. The official, who was not identified, told al-Akhbar newspaper published on Thursday that Jumblat proposed to FPM chief Aoun to end his presidential bid and agree with the rest of the factions on a consensual candidate.Aoun refused but was unable to convince the PSP leader, who is also a lawmaker, with his point of view, the official said. Jumblat visited Aoun in Rabieh on Wednesday upon the advice of Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. A joint statement issued described their meeting as “frank and friendly.”The talks “focused on several issues, mainly Lebanon's battle with terrorism,” it said. Aoun and Jumblat “stressed unconditional and absolute support to the Lebanese army,” and discussed ways to confront the growing challenges, including the activation of constitutional institutions and the speedy election of a president. The two lawmakers, who head parliamentary blocs, also discussed the importance of keeping contacts between the PSP and the FPM to bring the Lebanese closer, the statement said. Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Thursday that the Rabieh meeting broke the ice between Aoun and Jumblat. Another member of Aoun's bloc, lawmaker Naji Gharious, said despite the differences between the two parties, “Jumblat is not our enemy. He is a political foe.” “Any meeting between two officials is good even if they don't agree on certain issues,” he told al-Joumhouria newspaper. Asked if Jumblat's meeting was aimed at pulling out the candidacy of Jumblat-backed MP Henri Helou, Gharious said: “I don't have information in that regard.”In his turn, PSP spokesman Rami Rayyes said Jumblat visited Aoun because he felt the dangers threatening the country. He did not comment on the talks that focused on the presidential deadlock. Lebanon has been without a president since May 25 when Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid a failure by parliament to elect a successor over differences on a compromise candidate. Jumblat, a centrist, has backed Helou. The March 14 alliance has thrown its weight behind Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, and the Hizbullah-led March 8 camp has supported Aoun although he has not officially announced his candidacy. Change and Reform bloc lawmakers and the majority of the March 8 MPs have boycotted several rounds of parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president, causing a lack of quorum.
At Least One Killed, 10 Wounded in
Tripoli Bomb Explosion
Naharnet/A bomb detonated on Wednesday evening in the northern city of Tripoli, killing at least one person and wounding several others amid reports that the blast targeted an army patrol. "A bomb was placed next to a Renault Rapid car in Mouharram region in southern Tripoli, 30 meters away from a military post in the city," the state-run National News Agency reported. The NNA said A.Sh. was killed in the evening blast while four others were wounded. Military sources assured that no soldiers were harmed in the blast. "Only civilians were wounded in the explosion," the sources told LBCI television. LBCI, however, quoted sources as saying that three people were killed and more than 10 others wounded in the Tripoli bomb. Earlier, OTV said a bomb exploded in Bab al-Ramel neighborhood in Tripoli, injuring many people in the area. Al-Jadeed television also confirmed the news, noting that the blast took place at the al-Khnaq Bridge area in the city.”"The wounded were transferred to the Islamic Hospital and al-Shifa' Hospital for treatment,” it added. The bomb that detonated is probably locally-made, the same source said. MTV said the explosion targeted an army patrol, adding that one person was killed while four others were wounded in the incident. Tripoli's news network revealed that the explosion caused huge material damage in cars parked in the area, confirming also that many people were injured in the blast.
Qahwaji Lauds Latest Saudi Financial
Aid to Enhance Lebanon's Security Situation
Naharnet/Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji expressed gratitude on Thursday for the support that Saudi Arabia offers to Lebanon and in particular the military, considering it to be the main reason behind “thwarting conspiracy schemes and maintaining stability in Lebanon.”“The generous aid (for the Lebanese army) came at the appropriate time,” Qahwaji said in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Okaz.He personally thanked Saudi King Abdullah for “helping the army develop its capabilities and safeguard Lebanon amid the current situation in the region.”Qahwaji described the Saudi grant as “important,” saying: “It will enable (the army) to obtain military equipment and technologies that are not currently available, which will directly facilitate its combat against terrorism.”“The army is engaged in a tough mission to control security on the country's eastern and northern border with Syria and the southern border with Israel, in addition to areas across Lebanon as terrorist risks are on the rise.”
Asked about the first Saudi-financed arms deal, which was announced last December by former President Michel Suleiman, Qahwaji said that the “$3 billion deal that was set to purchase military equipment and weapons from France is still n its initial stage due to administrative reasons between the kingdom and Paris.” The Lebanese army has long complained of being sorely under-equipped. “We are still looking for a country to strike a deal with to buy arms under the additional one billion dollars granted by Saudi Arabia,” Qahwaji told the newspaper. Al-Mustaqbal movement leader and ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri declared on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has provided Lebanon's army with one billion dollars to strengthen security. Qahwaji stressed the “necessity of swiftly providing the security agencies with the necessary military assistance.”The army commander also called for a political balance or consensus and an agreement between the political arch-foes on backing the military in its fight against terrorism. He voiced hope that the Saudi aid would lead to a breakthrough regarding the ongoing presidential vacuum “that is posing tremendous risks on the country.”Lebanon has been without a president since May 25 when Suleiman's six-year term ended amid a failure by parliament to elect a successor over differences on a compromise candidate.
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, ISIS and
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya /Thursday, 7 August 2014
The additional $1 billion which Saudi Arabia offered to the Lebanese army this week is not a gift but a political act that comes within the remit of curbing the current strife in Lebanon and its surroundings.
Saudi Arabia could have offered this financial aid to build up a Lebanese Sunni militia and would have had many reasons for doing so, from fighting the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to deterring the Shiite Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s intelligence forces.
Instead, Saudi Arabia chose to support the army in Lebanon - a country full of Christian, Druze and Shiite militias. So why does Saudi Arabia support the army and not Ahmad al-Assir, Khaled al-Daher or Adnan Imama and other Sunnis looking for a funder? It’s not in Saudi Arabia’s interest for Lebanon to turn into an arena for sectarian militias fighting each other on behalf of the region’s countries. It’s also not in the interest of Lebanon’s Sunnis and Shiites to support taking up arms and rebelling against the state. Despite assassinations and political mobilization, Lebanese public opinion remains mostly against resorting to arms, particularly following the destructive civil war that erupted in the 1970s. Therefore, the choice was made to support the Lebanese state and arm its military institution so the army can carry out its duties of protecting the Sunnis and the rest of the country’s factions. Let us recall that although Hezbollah has better arms and has had a fighting force for more than 30 years, it has failed to gain legitimacy despite its claim that it’s a resistance group and the guardian of Lebanon’s borders.
“Strengthening the Lebanese army means weakening Hezbollah’s scheme to dominate Lebanon”
It’s expected that supporting the army and strengthening it will anger groups such as Hezbollah. Hezbollah prefers the creation of Sunni militias so it can justify its existence as an armed Shiite militia. It prefers this scenario over strengthening the Lebanese army – something that can legitimately and militarily threaten it raison d’etre.
Standing against militias
Saudi Arabia has taken a decision against supporting the concept of militias, whether Sunni or Shiite, in Lebanon and other countries. It considers strengthening the state to be the correct option, not just for the Lebanese people, but for all the region’s countries which are concerned with establishing security. To respond to Saudi Arabia’s decision not to stand against legitimacy, Assad and the Iranian regime have since the 1980s invented religious Sunni leaders that compete with the civil Sunni leadership in order to hijack authority from leaders such as Karami, Solh and Hariri. Even Lebanon’s Sunni mufti, Mohammad Rashid Qabbani is rejected by Lebanon’s Sunnis because they consider him as an employee of the Assad regime! The Lebanese situation is similar to the Palestinian one as Fatah al-Islam, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are linked to the Iranian and Syrian regimes.
Strengthening the Lebanese army means weakening Hezbollah’s scheme to dominate Lebanon and turn it into an Iranian emirate. It will enable the Lebanese to confront Sunni terrorist organizations which came running behind Hezbollah from Syria into Lebanon in this cat and mouse chase. The events in Arsal have proven the importance of having a strong army that stops the meddling of Hezbollah which sought to clash with Syrian groups under the Lebanese army’s flag. Military challenges at state level, from the events in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp to the recent events in Arsal, have proven that it’s not possible to trust Hezbollah and that the Lebanese people will not accept that any party besides the army defends their security. However, strengthening the Lebanese army does not promise salvation from Hezbollah and other militias as this aim is impossible to achieve in the near future. The aim is to halt Hezbollah’s progress towards its goal of playing the role of the Syrian army, which was expelled from Lebanon after a UNSC decision following Syria’s involvement in the assassination of Hariri nine years ago. A strong Lebanese army will either weaken the militia’s justification that they should have a presence in the country or restrict their activity. In this case, Hezbollah will become a Shiite problem, and resolving it will be left to Lebanon’s Shiites.
Understanding ISIS’ dicey battle in Lebanon
Thursday, 7 August 2014 /Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), supported by a large coalition of radical militants including Jabhat al-Nusra expanded its battles this week into Arsal, Lebanon. The ferocious fighting in the northeastern town on the Lebanese-Syrian border has so far resulted in 16 deaths and 22 abductions from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and is trapping civilians in the line of fire.
The Arsal battle is no walk in the park, and the Lebanese government should strike a very delicate balance in approaching the threat. Repeating the blunders of the Iraqi government by antagonizing the locals will only benefit ISIS, while a sectarian bloodbath will drive Lebanon into the abyss. Combatting the threat has to take into account the sectarian divisions and the larger political environment in the country.
Understanding the threat
Anyone following the Lebanese political landscape since the Syrian crisis broke out in March of 2011 should not be surprised by the breakout in the fighting in Arsal last week. While the trigger was the arrest of Emad Jumaa, a former Nusra leader who recently pledged allegiance to ISIS’ Caliphate, the current situation has been long in the making and is driven by both the Syrian spillover and sectarian tension inside Lebanon. Arsal itself is a largely Sunni town, before the Syrian refugee crisis its population was estimated by officials at around 40,000 residents. Figures released by the U.N. Refugee Agency at the end of June put the official registered Syrian population at over 40,000, with unofficial estimates suggesting that figure could be as high as 100,000, according to the Daily Star. It is located in Baalbak province, where the majority is Shiite. “Hezbollah’s public rationale to join the war has been to protect Lebanon from the extremists’ threat dubbed as “takfirists” by the party”
By virtue of geography and having its longest border with Syria (375 kilometers), a spillover from the Syrian conflict to Lebanon was almost inevitable. Arsal was one of the border towns to witness sporadic waves of clashes between the Syrian militants and the LAF in the last year. It has also been a target for the Syrian regime Air Force, which violated Lebanese sovereignty to hit the rebels. These waves intensified following the entry of the Shiite Lebanese militant party Hezbollah into the Syrian war in May 2013. The party fighters defied the Lebanon’s official policy of “dissociating from Syria” and have had major roles in the battles of Qalamoun, Homs, Damascus suburbs and Qusayr. Hezbollah’s public rationale to join the war has been to protect Lebanon from the extremists’ threat dubbed as “takfirists” by the party. In short, Hezbollah wanted to fight the “takfirists” on their own turf and prevent them from coming into Lebanon. This argument, however, is crumbling in Arsal and other pockets in Lebanon where radicals have gained a foothold. Their expansion has proven that the porous border is a two way street for both ISIS and Hezbollah. Many of the Syrian fighters including Jumaa have come to Arsal from Qalamoun and the battles are not showing signs of abatement. There are no official numbers of the militants numbers in Arsal, some reports have estimated them at 6000 fighters encompassing a coalition of ISIS, Nusra, Farouq brigades, and Liwaa Islam.
Combatting the threat
The Lebanese government should employ a dual military and political strategy in tackling the threat. In that regard, it is incumbent on the international community to help the LAF in counterterrorism efforts and border control. The Lebanese-Syrian border is one of the most permeable areas in the region. Prior to the Syrian conflict, the northeastern border near Arsal was popular for drug smuggling and as a major route for Iranian arms to Hezbollah. For decades, the Syrian regime has resisted international calls to demarcate it, and Lebanon has not had the military power to secure it. Yet, any successful LAF operation has to prioritize border security from and into Syria, and the $1 billion in Saudi aid package via France to the LAF is vital in that regard. Lebanon will also be one of the recipients of the $5 billion counterterrorism fund that U.S. President Barack Obama announced on May 28.
But the military aspect without a political strategy is bound to fail. Strengthening Lebanon’s political defenses by voting for a president after two months of void is key to ensuring the country’s stability. The void subdued the international community’s confidence in Lebanon and its ability to meet its obligations and come together and bridge political differences. These political divisions that hinder an agreement on a president are also exacerbated by sectarian tension and a Sunni-Shiite rift that ISIS and other radicals seem to exploit. The pockets most vulnerable to ISIS infiltration are those with most Sunni grievances in places such as Tripoli, Sidon and among the Syrian and Palestinian refugees. While the LAF is to be commended on its efforts to fight radical militants, there is no military fix for dealing with local sectarian grievances. The Arsal events should be a wakeup call for the Lebanese political class to put the interest of the country ahead of each party’s narrow calculus and activate the political process internally instead of fighting someone else’s wars.
Hamas: If Gaza blockade isn't lifted, we'll renew fire Friday
Roi Kais, Elior Levy/Ynetnews/08.07.14/
Egyptians say Palestinians have hardened position in Gaza ceasefire talks as Islamist movement brings out its supporters to create an image of victory; Hamas spokesman to Palestinian delegation: Don't come back without our demands met. Hamas says that if its demands are not met it will renew fire at Israel the moment the current ceasefire ends. The comments came as an Egyptian source told AP that the Palestinian delegation to the ceasefire talks in Cairo had hardened its position after Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders arrived. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas was trying to create an image of victory two days after the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect. Thousands arrived on Thursday with green Hamas flags to a demonstration in support of Hamas and the Palestinian delegation to Cairo. An Egyptian security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the Palestinian delegation's stance had hardened after the arrival in Cairo of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders from the Gaza Strip. He said Azzam al-Ahmad, the leader of the delegation and the representative of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, had threatened to withdraw from the talks if the two militant groups do not show more "flexibility," adding that the delegation, which was supposed to leave Cairo on Thursday, would stay through the weekend.
Palestinian delegates could not immediately be reached for comment. "Indirect talks are ongoing and we still have today to secure this," an Egyptian official said when asked whether the truce was likely to go beyond Friday.
One of the main speakers, Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri, urged the Palestinian representatives in Egypt - "don't come back without our conditions and demands. Work to get them with all of your might, in spite of the occupation." The demonstration was organized by Hamas as a part of its psychological warfare and its attempt to create the impression it won the battle, much like former prime minister Ismail Haniyeh's speech on Tuesday. Al-Masri continued hurling threats at Israel, after Hamas officials said there was no agreement to extend the ceasefire on Wednesday evening. "We support the resistance, we support the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, we support more firing at Tel Aviv and we support the tunnels," he said. He was photographed saluting the "resistance" and clarified: "The war is not over yet." "We tell the settlers - don't go back to your homes if Netanyahu doesn't agree to the resistance's demands," Al-Masri added. "We stress that the demands of the Palestinian people are legitimate demands. We call on Egypt and Arab countries and the international community to adopt these demands." Al-Masri insisted fighters are "in good shape" despite the nearly monthlong war and still had tunnels extending into Israel that could be used for attacks if Hamas' demands are not met.
Gaza in ruins as talks continue
Meanwhile, a video was posted on social media showing a
drive through past the wreckage in the Gaza streets. The video shows what was
left of the Strip after a month of bombardments.
According to UNRWA, 10,690 houses were destroyed in the operation, In addition, 485,000 Palestinians turned into refugees as a result of the bombings and the IDF's warnings to many Gazans to leave their homes. Very little is known of what happens behind closed doors in Cairo, where Israel and the Palestinians are holding indirect negotiations to reach a ceasefire agreement that would bring Operation Protective Edge to its official conclusion. The tough and threatening statements coming out of both sides could indicate difficult negotiations, but it appears both Israel and Hamas will have to eventually compromise on a few of their initial positions. Hamas, as predicted, would publicly announce these concessions, but its representatives already know some of the demands they presented in Cairo are unacceptable - not to Israel nor to Egypt. On Wednesday, the Palestinian delegation held a second meeting with the Chief of Egyptian Intelligence, Mohammad Fareed al-Tuham, where it was made clear to them that building sea and airports is not on the agenda at the moment, and that control of the Palestinian side of Rafah crossing will be in the hands of Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel has given general requirements: calm and demilitarization. Although a complete demilitarization is not expected, the country insists on establishing an international body that will handle the issue. This will require creativity and originality, which is why officials are striving to find a formula – or the politically correct term – that will give a feeling of the beginning of a process that will end with the disarmament of Hamas in Gaza. One way or another, Israel must collect an achievement in this field. A similar case is that of the seaports. Israel defines it as a "psychological threshold demand" of Hamas, and although no one believes that it will be accepted in full, officials may come up with a formula which will define the issue as part of a "future development." The Associated Press contributed to this report
Published on: 08.07.14, 16:20
For Cairo deal, Israel calls for ban in Gaza on all but light arms, free hand against tunnels, rocket plants
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 6, 2014/debkafile reports exclusively on the terms Israel handed in to the Cairo talks Wednesday Aug. 6 for a durable peace on the Gaza Strip. In the document Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen, who leads the Israeli delegation, put before the Egyptian intermediaries, the first key condition is based on the Oslo 2 Accords, which restricted Palestinian brigades in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria to bearing light firearms. The second condition would grant the Israeli military the freedom of action to strike a tunnel system designed for terrorist attacks and demolish plants manufacturing missiles.
Israel requires these two measures to be incorporated in any accords reached at the Cairo conference.
The 19-year old Oslo 2 accord, concluded in Washington on Sept. 28 1995, permitted Palestinian security forces to be equipped solely with light firearms take booty by Israel in the Galilee Peace operation against Palestinian forces in southern Lebanon.
The application of this provision to the Cairo accords, if signed, would outlaw Hamas’ possession of rockets of all types and heavy or sophisticated weaponry of any kind.
This provision has replaced Israel’s original demand for the full demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. Its implementation would require Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to get rid of all their heavy weapons, including heavy machine guns and mortars.
Other members of the Israeli delegation are Yitzhak Molcho, personal adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Amos Gilead, political coordinator at the Defense Ministry.
They submitted five more terms for a Gaza deal:
1. An inspection mechanism, whose nature remains to be determined, will be set up to monitor the 1-3 km deep security belt Israel is carving out inside the Gaza Strip along the 75 kilometers of its security border fence. This mechanism will ascertain that no military activity takes place.
2. Gaza will not be allowed to have either an airport or a deep water port, as Hamas is demanding.
3. All reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip or repairing the war damage, whether by the international community or Israel, will be channeled through the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas.
4. All of Gaza’s border crossings will be manned and operated by Palestinian Authority security personnel. Egypt and Israel have submitted this demand with regard to both their border terminals.
5. Gaza reconstruction work will take place under international supervision.
debkafile’s sources in Cairo report that, after the senior Palestinian negotiator Assam Ahmed found acceptable Israel’s terms regarding Gaza armaments, a heated altercation erupted between the PA and Hamas delegations. Some Hamas envoys threatened to walk out if those terms were tabled and its own rejected. For now, they have refused to extend the three-day truce beyond Friday, Aug. 8.
The Israeli envoys figure that the negotiations may well stretch out over weeks, if not months.
Canada Condemns ISIS for Ongoing Violence in Northern Iraq
August 7, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“I am deeply concerned by reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] terrorist group continues on its reckless path of death and destruction. Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the repugnant killing of innocent civilians in northern Iraq, including women and children from Christian, Yazidi and other religious communities. “These despicable acts of violence, which have displaced more than 200,000 people in the past week alone, also continue to show complete contempt for religious freedom and are purely driven by hate and intolerance. “ISIS is nothing more than a violent terrorist organization, devoid of the respect, deference and acceptance Muslims are called to have toward others. “Canada stands with the thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers who are bravely fighting brutal terrorism, with assistance in some areas from the Iraqi Air Force. We encourage Baghdad and Erbil to maintain and reinforce their cooperation. “Canada continues to support the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIS and calls on Iraqi leaders to come together to govern for all Iraqis, regardless of religion, for the sake of the security, democracy and prosperity of the Iraqi people.”
Third Wave of Assisted Departures of Canadians from Gaza
August 7, 2014 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), today issued the following statement regarding the third wave of assisted departures of Canadians from Gaza: “Today, our consular officials successfully assisted a third wave of 20 people, including Canadian citizens and accompanying family members, in safely travelling from Gaza to Jordan.
“Canadian consular officials in Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Amman worked closely with our allies and partners, under the direction of the United Nations, to ensure that all necessary approvals for this operation were secured and that Canadians wishing to leave Gaza were able to do so safely. “Given the volatile situation in Gaza, the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance is limited.”Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) has been advising against all travel to the Gaza Strip since October 10, 2000, and on July 11, 2014, Canadians were advised to leave the Gaza Strip. Canadian citizens in Gaza requiring consular assistance should contact the Representative Office of Canada to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah at 972 (2) 297-8430 or contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre by phone, collect, at 1-613-996-8885 or by email at email@example.com. A backgrounder on consular assistance follows.
World Ignores Christian Exodus from
By Raymond Ibrahim/August 7, 2014/Gatestone Institute
While the world fixates on the conflict between Israel and
Hamas—and while most mainstream media demonize Israel for trying to survive amid
a sea of Arab-Islamic hostility—similar or worse tragedies continue to go
Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid.
One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”
As Reuters reported:
Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….
It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”
“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.
The amount of jizya-money demanded was $450 a month, an exorbitant sum for Iraq.
Hours after the demand for jizya was made, Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.
Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children.
The Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul said that what is happening to the Christians of Mosul is nothing less than “genocide… not to mention the slaughters and rapes not being reported… Forcing more than a thousand Christian families out of Mosul, and turning Christian churches into Muslim mosques, is equivalent to genocide.” Of course, the word genocide means to kill or make extinct a people.
Others were not as lucky to flee. According to Iraqi human rights activist Hena Edward, a great many older and disabled Iraqis, unable to pay the jizya or join the exodus, have opted to convert to Islam.
Meanwhile, the jihadis continue destroying churches and other ancient Christian holy sites in the name of their religion, and murdering any Christians they can find. Among other acts, they torched an 1800 year old church in Mosul, stormed a fourth century monastery—formerly one of Iraq’s best known Christian landmarks—and expelling its resident monks.
Most recently, in Syrian regions under the Islamic State’s control, eight Christians were reportedly crucified.
The Islamic State’s call for Christians to pay jizya is not simply about money. It is about subjugation. Most Western media reporting on this recent call for jizya have failed to explain the accompanying dhimma contract Christians must also abide by. According to the Islamic State, “We offer them [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”
The “dhimma contract” is a reference to the Conditions of Omar, an Islamic text attributed to the caliph of the same name that forces Christians to live according to third class citizen status.
In fact, several months back, when the Islamic State was still called “ISIS,” it applied the Conditions of Omar on the Christian minorities of Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic group had issued a directive
citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS… “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said [emphasis added].
The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.
Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”
In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat. Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”
In late 2012, it was reported that the last Christian in the city of Homs, Syria—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. An escaped teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”
In the African nation of Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.
One can go on and on:
•In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”
•In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.
•In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian nun orders serving the sick and needy since 1921 to flee and killed several Coptic Christians, causing that community also to flee.
•In Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, where hardly a Sunday passes without a church bombing, Christians are fleeing by the thousands; one region has been emptied of 95% of its Christian population.
•In Pakistan, after a Christian child was falsely accused of desecrating a Koran and Muslims went on an anti-Christian rampage, an entire Christian village—men, women, and children—was forced to flee into the nearby woods, where they built a church, to permanently reside there.
Despite all these atrocities, exoduses, and even genocides, the mainstream media seems to spend every available moment airing images of displaced Palestinians and demonizing Israel for trying to defend itself. Yet Israel does not kill Palestinians because of their religion or any other personal aspects. It does so in the context of being rocketed and trying to defend itself from terrorism.
On the other hand, all the crimes being committed by Muslims against Christians are simply motivated by religious hate, because the Christians are Christian.
It is to the mainstream media’s great shame that those who slaughter, behead, crucify, and displace people for no other reason than because they are Christian, rarely if ever get media coverage, while a nation such as Israel, which kills only in the context of self-defense, and not out of religious bigotry, is constantly demonized.
"Hamas in Gaza stands with the Iraqi Christians against Daesh
(All agencies) Thousands of Hamas supporters marched in Gaza to condemn the barbaric attacks by Jihadist Daesh against the Christians of Iraq and Syria, whose Church leaders have been spending more than half of their time supporting Hamas in solidarity...The Hamas supporters called for the UN Security Council to consider Daesh as war criminals because of their indiscriminate killing of Christian and Yazedi civilians...Hamas will stand with the Church leaders who stand with Hamas...(PS: A virtual statement that will only be issued when Hamas will give back to some Church leaders a return to the latter's support to Hamas)
The 1933 Simmele Massacre of Assyrians in Iraq
Because of the Simmele Massacre,
August 7 was chosen to become the official Assyrian Martyrs Day. Here is an account of the massacre.
The 1933 Simmele Massacre of Assyrians in Iraq
(AINA) -- The Simmele Massacre of Assyrians occurred between August 7 and August 11, 1933, in the town of Simmele, North Iraq, and its surroundings. It was carried out by the Iraqi Army, led by General Bakir Sidqi, a Kurd, and Kurdish and Arab irregulars. The report below is presented in original form; some spelling may be non-standard. The number of victims has been subsequently determined by researchers to be 3,000, since the massacre was not confined only to the village of Simmele.
The Simmele Massacre
As Reported by Colonel Stafford of the British Army
Simmel is on the main road to Zakho, about eight miles from Dohuk, under the administration of which qodha it came. It was the largest village in the neighborhood and consisted of over one hundred Assyrians and ten Arab houses. The total population would have been about 700, most of the Assyrians belonging to the Baz tribe, with others of the Upper Tiyari and the Diz. The headman was a strong supporter of the Mar Shimun and with fifty others had followed Yacu into Syria. These fifty were almost entirely Tiyari, hardly any of the Baz being among them. The feeling of unrest in the village increased. On August 8th the Qaimaqam of Zakho appeared with a lorry full of soldiers. No satisfactory answer has yet been given to the question why he should have come with troops into a district that was outside his administration. He entered the village and told the Assyrians to surrender their rifles, as he feared that fighting might occur between the rebel Assyrians and the Government forces, in which case the people of Simmel would be less likely to be involved if they had no rifles. Plausibly, but with lies in his heart, he assured them that they would be safe under the protection of the Iraqi flag which flew over the police post for Simmel, being a large village, had a police post of one sergeant and four men. The Assyrians then handed in their arms, which were taken away by the troops.
Next day more troops returned, this time without the Qaimaqam, and disarmed further Assyrians who in the meantime had come in from the surrounding villages. The following day, the 10th, passed comparatively quietly. Nothing happened except that Arabs and Kurds could be seen looting neighboring villages. They even came in and stripped the communal threshing floors on the outskirts of Simmel, where the cut barley and wheat was stacked in piles, for it was full time of harvest and the villagers were engaged in threshing and winnowing. The unarmed Assyrians could do nothing and the police did not intervene; they explained that they had no orders and that in any case their numbers were insufficient.
It was becoming quite clear now to the Assyrians what was likely to happen. Not only had they seen this looting going on, but they suddenly found they were forbidden to draw water from the village spring, being permitted only to go to the main stream, which was dirty. They knew that the Army had already shot many Assyrians. They had seen their head priest, Sada, taken out of Simmel. All day they watched the looting Arabs and Kurds. Not one of them dared to move from the neighborhood of the police post, except one or two whose houses were near by, and who went to and fro on pathetic household tasks such as the making of bread, the last meal that many of them were destined to eat. They were now in a state of deadly fear, and they spend that night in and around the police post, which is built on a small hill. They now knew only too well the sentiments which the Arabs, and particularly the Arab Army, harboured towards them, and in the small hours of the 11th, when the moon had risen, the watching Assyrians began to observe their Arab neighbours of the village starting away driving their flocks before them. This opened their eyes beyond possibility of error. They realized the trap they had been led into and they knew that they were entirely helpless.
The police sergeant ordered the Assyrians from the out lying villages to return to their homes. When they refused, saying that it was unsafe, he ordered them to leave the police post and go down to the houses in the villages below. They obeyed reluctantly. Some went to the house of Gavriel and his brother Tinan, who kept reassuring them that they would be safe and that the Government would protect them. As others were going down to the houses they suddenly saw lorries of troops and armoured cars arriving. Looking round to the police post they saw a policeman pulling down the Iraqi flag, which until then had been flying, as it had flown for years, as a symbol of the law and order under which every inhabitant of Iraq could live in safety and security. Suddenly and without the least warning the troops opened fire upon the defenseless Assyrians. Many fell, including some women had children, and the rest ran into the houses to take cover. Not a soul was to be seen in the streets. The troops well knew that there was not a rifle or revolver left in the village. An officer then drove up in a car and the troops came in. This officer has since been identified as Ismail Abawi Tohalla, who comes of a well know but by no means respectably Mosul family. He shouted to the soldiers not to kill the women and children. These were ordered to come out of the houses and go up to the police post. Many did so.
A cold blooded and methodical massacre of all the men in the village then followed, a massacre which for the black treachery in which it was conceived and the callousness with which it was carried out, was as foul a crime as any in the blood stained annals of the Middle East. The Assyrians had no fight left in them, partly because of the state of mind to which the events of the past week had reduced them, largely because they were disarmed. Had they been armed it seems certain that Ismail Abawi Tohalla and his bravos would have hesitated to take them on in fair fight. Having disarmed them, they proceeded with the massacre according to plan. This took some time. Not that there was any hurry, for the troops had the whole day ahead of them. Their opponents were helpless and there was no chance of any interference from any quarter whatsoever. Machine gunners set up their guns outside the windows of the houses in which the Assyrians had taken refuge, and having trained them on the terror stricken wretches in the crowded rooms, fired among them until not a man was left standing in the shambles. In some other instance the blood lust of the troops took a slightly more active form, and men were dragged out and shot or bludgeoned to death and their bodies thrown on a pile of dead.
Gavriel, who has been mentioned in an earlier chapter as the individual who raised cheers for the Army at the Mosul meeting of July 11th, went out to plead for the Assyrians. He explained who he was, and said that his nephew, Ezra Effendi, had long been an officer in the Iraqi police. He showed his nationality papers, but these were torn in pieces before his face and he was shot in cold blood. A priest named Ismail who had taken refuge in the police post was driven out by the police, a rope was tied round his neck and he was kicked down the steps and dragged away by the troops, who shot him, afterwards throwing his body on the steadily growing heap of corpses. Whilst this organized slaughter was going on, the police sergeant, who had from the beginning taken a leading part in the diabolical plot, ordered the Assyrian women to clean up the blood from the neighborhood of the police post. The women complied, but only for a time. Suddenly they rebelled against this inhuman order and told the police sergeant to turn the machine guns on them as they would rather die. The soldiers then took the men that remained down to a ditch and went on killing until every man was dead. It was then discovered that a few men had taken refuge among the women and that some of them had hastily got into women's clothes. These were rounded up and murdered.
they went off to Aloka for their midday meal and afternoon siesta. As soon as the troops had gone, the tribes, who had been interested spectators, came in and completed the looting of the houses which the soldiers had commenced. The tribes had taken no part whatever in the massacre, but as the Army were equipped with modern machine guns and had no opposition, there was of course no need for any help. Later in the evening the troops came back, for the police sergeant had reported by telephone that a number of Assyrian men had appeared at the police post and taken refuge there. These were hunted out and killed. The shooting went on until about sunset. In the meantime the other houses in the village were crowded with weeping, terror stricken women and small children. Few of them had any meal that night or for the next few days, for what grain there was in the village had been removed by the Kurds, who had also gone round the houses removing cookery utensils, bedding, and in some cases even the roof beams.
Next morning the women, already distracted beyond all reason, had a further shock when they saw the Army returning, for they did not know what this might portend. The Army, however, had merely come back to bury the dead. The bodies were collected and placed in a shallow ditch. It must be remembered that the month was August with a daily sun maximum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit! According to the military report 305 men, four women, and six children were buried. Many of the killed were little more than half grown boys. Some other twenty women and children were wounded. I myself saw later one child who had been shot in both wrists as he was being held in the arms of his father who was killed. That night and the subsequent night some of the women were raped by the police sergeant and the soldiers. Doing everything possible to minimize what had happened, the Arabs have stated that no such incidents occurred. This is a lie. All that can be said is that throughout these terrible days there were fewer outrages on women than would have been expected. It was also everywhere stated at the time that this massacre was the work of the tribes and the irregular police. This, too, is a lie. It was the work of the Iraqi Army, disciplined troops under the direct command of their officers, the troops re sponsible for practically all the killing being the motor machin gun detachments, while other troops who were passing the village throughout the day did nothing to stop what was going on.
Bekir Sidqi himself, who was to be acclaimed by the Baghdad mob as a conquering here, and what was even worse was later decorated and promoted by the Iraqi Government, was not in Simmel but spent that day in Mosul, though there is no question but that he planned the whole affair. Indeed, it was subsequently admitted that the Army, had it not been prevented, had intended to carry out a similar massacre of Alqosh, and that he reports that Assyrian rebels had entered that village had been deliberately spread about to afford an excuse.
The burial in the shallow ditch, which was carried out most inefficiently, caused the stench under the burning sun to become almost unendurable, and every fly and pestilential insect for miles around was drawn to the village. In this unspeakable atmosphere there lived for six day one thousand terrified women and children who had seen all their male relations killed before their eyes. All they had to eat was a few dried water melon seeds and they had scanty water. Even at night they had little sleep, for they did not know what might be coming next, and their dreadful experiences let them to put little trust in the protestations of the police that they were quite safe and that nothing more would happen. A little bread was send from Dohuk, but nothing on an adequate scale was done until Hikmet Beg Suleiman himself on the 15th arrived in the village and was overcome by what he saw. As soon as he returned doctors and sanitary men were sent to Simmel, and the bodies were decently and properly re interred. when I visited Simmel myself with Major Thomason on August 17th few traces could be seen of what had occurred, but the sight of the women and children is one which I shall never forget and I spent more than tree years in the trenches in France! That day the women and children were removed to Dohouk, and thence, as there was no proper accommodation, to Mosul, where they were placed under canvas in a camp, which will be described later. Every effort was made to hush up what had occurred and a censorship for a time imposed on out going letters. It was soon seen, however, that the killing could not be kept secret, for the Christians in the north had sent the news abroad, and in the nature of things an affair of this kind was bound to get out. In fact, the details were published in the Beyrouth newspaper before they were known in Mosul. So the Baghdad Government began to admit that there had been a slaughtering of the Assyrians, but they threw the blame on the tribes and the irregular police. Later this was found to be useless, and Yasin Pasha, the Iraqi delegate to Geneva, had to admit that the excesses had been committed by the regular Army. The Pasha went on to add that the excesses merited and had received severe condemnation. This was untrue. Actually the troops were given triumphal receptions when they returned to Mosul, Kirkuk, and Baghdad. In Mosul the Crown Price, who is now King of Iraq, at a great military review, decorated with his own hands the colours of the troops who had been engaged against the Assyrians. Bekir Sidqi, Hajji Ramadhan, and the other officers concerned were promoted. Bekir Sidqi on his arrival in Baghdad motored through the crowded streets amidst enthusiastic applause, sitting on the right hand of the Prime Minister. However much Iraqis may deplore what occurred and in private many express a genuine disgust no one of them has yet stated publicly in Iraq that the Army had behaved itself otherwise than well.
But though the worst massacres of all took place at Simmel, this was not the only place where Assyrians were murdered. The killings at Dohuk have already been described, and many also were shot at and near Zakho. The first reports regarding the number of Assyrians killed were greatly exaggerated; two thousand was a figure often mentioned, and few people, even Iraqis, suggested less than one thousand. Actually, as the result of careful inquiries; I have come to the conclusion that not more than six hundred lost their lives. The great majority of these were peaceful cultivators, who had committed not the smallest offence against the Iraqi Government. Altogether upwards of five hundred and fifty Assyrians were killed by the Army, of whom not more than twenty could, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to have been killed in action. The Kurds, as a whole, behaved considerably better than might have been expected, especially in view of the undoubted encouragement they had received. Only at two places were they guilty of murder, though they did much looting. At a place named Savora the followers of Nisham Agha murdered twelve Assyrians in cold blood. At Qalla Badri, near Dohuk, some Assyrians women were killed and mutilated under atrocious circumstances. Other Assyrians in other places were killed by the Kurds in the course of their robbing and looting, but probably Kurds did not kill more than fifty altogether. On the other hand, several instances were reported of Kurds protecting Assyrian women and children. Mohammed Agha of Germawa, in particular, showed a fine spirit.
Speech by Arab Member of Iraqi Parliament
A speech delivered to the Iraqi Parliament on June 28, 1933 by Sayed Chabali Haji Thabit, a member of Parliament, set the stage for the massacre. In the speech Thabit villifies the Assyrians, denies their identity, calls them "wretched and corrupt people" and says they are a "poisonous germ in the head of the government."
Here is the text of the speech, as well as an image of the official transcript.
Statement made by Sayed Chabali Haji Thabit, in the Iraq Parliament, on the 28th June, 1933, Vide Al Istiqlal. No. 1929, of the 29th June, 19333.
I have to throw light on the public opinion, specially on that of our press, regarding this misleading name 'Assyrians' which is in common use. As you are aware this term is only recently coming into being. There is nobody who reasonably deserves this name, if there is any, we are the first to grasp it, as we are the original inhabitants of this country. I take this from the physical and not political point of view. The same question arises in Egypt, it is called Pharoahs' , but really Mosul is Arab even before the Islam, I regret to note that our press still stick to this mysterious name. The group which calls itself Assyrians, should be named Tyaris, they intermingle with the Syrianis and Chaldeans, this is confirmed by their being bi-lingual. If for example there is any of them who can decipher the tablets maintained in our museum, he can make us believe that they are descendants of the Great Assyria, Proverb, "if he passed the examination set, he deserves honour; if he fails he is liable to spit into his face and kick him out."
The Tyaris can be divided int the following suo-sections: (1) Tyari Bila, (2) Tyari Zair, (3) Tyari Jilu, (4) Tyari Bazi and (5) Tyari Dizi, they all go under then name Tyari. These in the pre-war days inhabited in (1) Hikkari, Julamark, Bashqala, and Van in the Turkish territories with their religious headquarters in Qudshanus, (2) Persia, their headquarters in Urmia, (3) Russia and (4) part of them lived in the Barwari villages in the out-skirts of a mountain which is named after them, viz, Tyari Mountain in the vicinity of Madia, and their headquarters being in Ashita, where their religious leader resides who puts his untimely claims before the government. These villages are within the Turkish border, but some of them are happily situated in the Iraqi side, they are genuine Iraqis; they are entitled to share the benefit of our country; ours is theirs and theirs is ours.
The above mentioned Tyaris are therefore Aliens, and not former inhabitants of this country. They are nearly 20,000 who fled from Persia, Russia and Turkey, with the strong desire the colonial office. When they poured into Mosul and began living by illegal means, the inhabitants there were somewhat indisposed and cried to get rid of them but, unfortunately, their pleadings were not listened to until some unhappy event took place in Mosul. The Mosulawis cried loudly and insisted on their being removed to their former homes or at least scattered in the villages, to avoid further accidents. It was prophesied at that time that, their settling together would jeopardize the general security, and disturb peaceful citizens. The government migrated them to Kirkuk; as though Kirkuk was not Iraq! They caused there the most bloody accident Kirkuk has ever seen, and made hundreds of our myrters (sic) to lose their dear lives. This happened during the celebration of the "Id al Fatir."
I cannot help weeping when I remember that doomed event!! Still, some mysterious hand plays havoc, and moves them to and fro. Recently one of their priests (Rev. Bedari) who resides in Mosul, published the most notorious article against the poor government. The police authorities in the spot confiscated his cursed pamphlets, but his honour the priest, was able to dispose some fifty copies and distribute them among the prominent people. May I ask his excellency as to the steps taken against such behaviours?
This wretched and corrupt people was housed and fed in Iraq, and were expected to be loyal and dutidul (sic) subjects, but on the contrary, after being surfeited and ungrateful to the hospitality shown by their hosts claim humorous rights. Experience, however, shows that these are armed to the teeth and are in a position to inflict the severest blow on the government, and disturb peaceful citizens. They imagine that they will be able to upset and wreck the Iraq Government!! We are not so coward, but we wait to see what steps will be taken against those interlopers - what is the government's attitude towards them in this respect, and why she keeps quiet and postpones their punishment? and to make it known from what source they obtained their arms. We therefore request and recommend their being stripped of their arms forthwith, or at least, arm their neighbors for defencive measures.
We cannot clearly understand tha (sic) programme of their settling together in the Zibar area. The government further sanctioned 13,000 Dinars for their settlement, and the settlement office intends to settle some of them in the Barza area; as though we dislodged the Barzanis to make room for those, and to breed the poisonous germ in the head of the government.
These will, at any time, be an obstacle in the way of the government, we therefore, should scatter them in all the liwas to be able to rule them peacefully. We understand that they imagine special status, out these cannot be attained to, and cannot at our will, create a difficult situation similar to that created in Palestine (Zionists).
Further, what is the British Consulate at Diaaaa? and what are the intelligence officers scattered in the country? and what is this mythical hand that which turns this unseen machine? We were under the impression that this game would come to an end with the mandate, but they wish to restart it in an Independent State! "[w]e can wait no longer, everything is ripe, we request the government to take punitive measures against them.
Gentlemen, the most important problem to solve is to remedy this bleeding wound, to do this; we shall cry and cry loudly. The soil of this country is formed of the bones and blood of our ancestors, how can we close our eyes and be indifferent I defending our sacred father land? (Applause). Our ally wants many things, in this country of their adoption, we must guard it against any intruders.
Government Order to Disarm Assyrians
The Iraqi government ordered the Assyrians to surrender their weapons or face severe punishment. Here is the text of the order (translated by Dr. Samir Jonah), followed by the image of the order, in Arabic.
To the Assyrian Rebels
By this notice, the government declares:
1. You have sixty hours starting at 12:00, i.e, midday Saturday, of this August 12, to show your good intentions subject to your surrender of all your weaponry to the closest government offices, military camps or police stations.
2. All disciplinary actions by government armed forces will be put on hold during the grace period mentioned above.
3. If you do not give in and surrender your weapons to the above mentioned authorities during this grace period, the government armed forces will resume its operations against you with the worst possible outcomes.
4. Take advantage of this valuable opportunity and accept the advice to avert your blood shed.
Assyrians Commemorate Martyrs Day As
History Repeats Itself
Assyrian International News Agency
Assyrians Commemorate Martyrs Day As History Repeats Itself
2014-08-07 /Christian women crucified in the World War One genocide of Assyrians, Armenians and Pontic Greeks by Ottoman Turks.(AINA) -- Between August 7 and 11, 1933, the Iraqi Army and Kurdish and Arab irregulars conducted a massacre of 3,000 Assyrian men, women and children in the town of Simmele and its surroundings. A detailed account of the massacre was given Colonel Stafford of the British Army (The Simmele Massacre). Because of the Simmele Massacre, August 7 was later chosen to become the official Assyrian Martyrs Day, a day to remember Assyrians killed not only in that massacre, but all massacres and genocides against the Assyrian nation, including the Turkish Genocide of Assyrians in World War One, which claimed 75% of the Assyrian population (750,000 Assyrians, as well as 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Pontic Greeks).
There have been 33 genocides since 339 A.D., all but three committed by Muslims. This averages to one every 50 years. In other words, for the past 1675 years there has been genocide in the living memory of every Assyrian generation.
In 2014 the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) is committing genocide against the Assyrians of North Iraq and Syria. It began by IS issuing new Sharia rules for Mosul's residents ().
In 1933 the Simmele massacre began with a fiery speech in the Iraqi Parliament by an Arab MP, Sayed Thabit, in which he vilified the Assyrians, denied their identity, called them "wretched and corrupt people" and said they are a "poisonous germ in the head of the government" (The Simmele Massacre).
In 2014 IS sent a letter to Assyrians in Mosul, ordering them to convert, pay the jizya (a "protection" fee) or die (AINA 2014-07-20). All of Mosul's Assyrians fled the city.
In 1933 The Iraqi government orders the Assyrians to turn in their weapons, promising them safety.
In 2014 IS shells Assyrian towns, killing 4, causing the Nineveh Plain to be nearly emptied of its indigenous and autochthonous Assyrian population.
In 1933 Assyrians are massacred in Simmele after they surrender their weapons, the Iraqi government not honoring its promise of safety.
History is repeating itself. In 1933 Assyrians were targeted because they were Christians. In 2014 IS is targeting them for the same reason.
200,000 Assyrians Have Fled the
Nineveh Plain in the Last 24 Hours
Assyrian refugees sleeping on the streets of Ankawa, Iraq
(photo: ankawa.com).(AINA) -- The push of the Islamic State (IS) from Mosul
north into the Nineveh Plain, the last stronghold of Assyrians in Iraq, has
created fear and panic in the population, causing a massive exodus from Assyrian
villages. The influx of refugees into Ankawa and Noohadra (Dohuk) has
overwhelmed the towns. There is a shortage of everything -- shelter, food,
water. Dispalced Assyrians are sleeping on sidewalks and in open fields.
AINA spoke to several government officials by telephone regarding the crisis in the Nineveh Plain. These same officials have also fled with the rest of the population.
Yesterday at midnight a column of IS vehicles entered Tel Kepe and took control of the city, whose population had already fled north. IS is now marching to Batnaya and Telsqof, which have been abandoned.
All of the population of the city of Alqosh has fled.
The massive exodus of Assyrians was precipitated in part by the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the Nineveh Plain. With no one left to defend them, Assyrians followed the retreating Kurdish forces.
Baghdede is now nearly completely empty of Assyrians. The exodus began yesterday morning at 2:30 A.M when Kurdish forces announced they were withdrawing. The Bishops ordered all churches to ring their bells to warn the residents to flee and the exodus began.
After the Kurdish forces withdrew IS took control of the city and the surrounding areas, including Karamles and Bartella.
Last night and this morning IS robbed Assyrians as they fled Baghdede.
It is estimated that 200,000 Assyrians have fled the Nineveh Plain, heading north to Dohuk, Sarsink and Zakho and east to Ankawa and Arbel. The following is a list of Assyrian villages and towns which are now completely abandoned:
Seven Yazidi villages and fifteen Shabak villages surrounding Baghdede have also been abandoned, as well as most small villages in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul.
Many Assyrians who fled to Arbel began to flee again when IS and the Kurds clashed 25 miles West of Arbel yesterday, they headed northwest to Diana and Rawondoz.
The situation of the Assyrian refugees is critical. There are thousands who fled on foot and are stranded on the roads without food or water, with many handicapped and disabled people. For those fortunate to have cars, they are unable to find shelter and are sleeping in their cars.
The Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East sent a letter Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the Unites Nations, urging action on the crisis in North Iraq (AINA 2014-08-07).
ISIS Captures Iraq's Largest Christian
Displaced Iraqi Christians who had fled from Mosul city had
sought refuge in Qaraqosh (photo: Reuters).KIRKUK, Iraq (AFP) -- Jihadists took
over Iraq's largest Christian town Qaraqosh and surrounding areas Thursday and
sent tens of thousands of panicked residents fleeing towards autonomous
Kurdistan, officials and witnesses said.
Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants moved in overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish peshmerga troops, who are stretched thin across several fronts in Iraq, residents said.
"I now know that the towns of Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants," Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, told AFP.
Qaraqosh is an entirely Christian town that lies between Mosul, the jihadists' main hub in Iraq, and Irbil, the Kurdish region's capital. It usually has a population of around 50,000.
"It's a catastrophe, a tragic situation. We call on the U.N. Security Council to immediately intervene. Tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described," the archbishop said.
Tal Kayf, the home of a significant Christian community as well as members of the Shabak Shiite minority, also emptied overnight.
"Tal Kayf is now in the hands of the Islamic State. They faced no resistance and rolled in just after midnight," said Boutros Sargon, a resident who fled the town and was reached by phone in Irbil.
"I heard some gunshots last night and when I looked outside, I saw a military convoy from the Islamic State. They were shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is greatest)," he said.
In some wars, both sides lose
By: Nahum Barnea /08.07.14/Ynetnews
Analysis: Despite its huge military advantage, advanced intelligence and remarkable protection means, it may be difficult for the IDF to subdue several thousand terror fighters.
The IDF forces disappeared from the assembly areas in the Gaza vicinity in a flash, leaving behind tons of dust and mountains of toilet paper. They left something else behind, something immeasurable: A bitter feeling of disappointment.
In this case, the disappointment is shared by both the fighters who went into Gaza and the residents of southern Israel. Both were hoping for an unequivocal ending, for an achievement which would erase the threat on the other side of the border once and for all. This may happen in the future, mainly thanks to the revolution in Egypt and perhaps thanks to the operation, but no one can guarantee that it will happen. In the past eight years we have experienced four military operations against terror organizations: The 2006 Lebanon war, Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. They were all characterized by a big gap between the expectations and the results.
The sequence of disappointments is troubling. It's possible that despite the IDF's huge military advantage, despite the fact that it operates unhindered from the air and from the sea, despite its advanced intelligence and remarkable protection means, it finds it difficult to subdue several thousand terror fighters. Or maybe our expectations are too high. It's Gaza, it's the IDF, it's what we know how to do. Both sides' loss and profit balance is complicated. If the Military Intelligence Directorate's estimate is true, Hamas was dragged into this war against its will. The tunnel network it built was not ready for action. The rocket arsenal was defeated by the Iron Dome system. The few attempts to attack beyond the border produced poor results.
But Hamas demonstrated its stamina and spirit of combat. None of its leaders were hurt in the war and it did not lose its rule of Gaza. These are significant achievements in a conflict with a strong and modern army, which sent all its front-line units to the battle.
The members of Hamas' Qatari wing are now sitting in Cairo and talking to Israel through two brokering systems: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' politicians and the Egyptian intelligence's generals.
Their main demands are exaggerated: They are demanding, in practice, that the siege on Gaza will be lifted. In terms of the Israeli policy until the operation, the joint Hamas and Palestinian Authority delegation is like a terror attack, and lifting the siege is suicide. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approach changed during the operation. Now Israel is willing to accept, maybe even cooperate with, a Palestinian government which includes Hamas.
An international effort is underway to return the PA to Gaza. Hamas is meant to be Abbas' religious branch: It will, allegedly, relinquish its control of Gaza and receive a foothold in the West Bank in return. And most importantly, it will curb its military activity.
The Israeli government is finding it difficult to believe in this utopian vision, but understands that this is not the time to thwart the effort. It is concerned, of course, that the opposite will happen: The PA will be in charge of Gaza but will not control it, and Hamas will openly resume its activities in the West Bank.
Abbas, seemingly, stands to gain the most. Everyone – from Qatar, through Washington and Cairo, to Jerusalem – agrees that he is the solution. But most Palestinians see him as nothing more than a collaborator.
"In the West Bank, we are dead meet," one of Abbas' associates said this week. "If we return to Gaza on the IDF's spears, even my children will call me a traitor." For the first time since the War of Independence, the heart of the State of Israel turned into a front: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to target it in 2006 and failed to follow through; Hamas threatened and succeeded, with daily barrages. Not only the Tel Aviv metropolitan area was exposed, but also a series of strategic targets. Hamas knew how to pick.
This exposure should concern us. The Iron Dome's success can help calm us down. If it were not for the Iron Dome, there would have been no escape from occupying the Strip, with all that it entails.
The way the operation was conducted on the Israeli side raised many questions. The government was dragged into Gaza. It pursued a ceasefire immediately after the first days of airstrikes. The ground invasion decision was not part of the plan. It was the result of Hamas' infiltration through a tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa.
The tunnels were a real threat to the 50,000 Israelis living in kibbutzim and moshavim near the border. As one of them members of Kibbutz Be'eri said to me during the operation, "We thought that the disengagement had created a border between us and Gaza. The tunnels erased the border."
But the tunnels did not constitute a strategic, existential threat. Their importance was inflated for marketing reasons. Their detonation revoked Hamas of an asset, but did not destroy it.
The minority in the government which sought to occupy Gaza found it difficult to understand the logic in a war over the tunnels: Instead of breaking through or flanking Hamas' fortified lineup, the IDF is wearing out its soldiers by attacking every fortified post on the frontline. This is not the way to wage a war, one of the ministers argued.
Naturally, the end of the fighting marks the beginning of the wars of the Jews. Ministers are putting the responsibility on the IDF, describing Netanyahu as a person who toed the line set by the army.
The cabinet was allegedly presented with all the possible options. But the occupation of Gaza was described in exaggerated terms – the IDF's 20 fallen soldiers in Saja'iyya times 30 or 40 – and the cabinet panicked and obeyed.
The Israeli government entered the operation without a strategic plan and emerged from it without a strategic plan. Just like it made sure not to initiate anything in the years between the wars, it made sure not to initiate anything during the fighting. It went with the flow.
There is an abysmal gap between military conflicts and sports competitions. In sports, there is a winner and there is a loser. In war, it's not always like that. There are wars in which both sides lose.
No more pants in church? Egypt women
By Dina al-Shibeeb | Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 7 August 2014
Tens of Egyptian Coptic women protested on Wednesday a decision by a local bishop in a northern governorate to bar females from wearing trousers and make-up in church, Ahram Online reported. The women started their protest outside of Abbasiya’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo but they eventually entered the church with their placards, urging Pope Tawadros II, who was speaking at the pulpit at the time, to take action.
Tawadros II called on the women protesters to lower their signs and said he was working to address the issue.
According to Ahram Online, Bishop Bishoy of Damietta and Kafr el-Sheikh governorates last month ordered the placement of signs in churches urging “all ladies and girls above the age of 11 [to] refrain from wearing trousers, blouses or make-up during the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy, and they should wear modest dress.”
This is not the first time Bishop Bishoy has addressed the issue of women’s clothing. In 2012, he urged Christian women to wear modest clothing.
“Some Christian women might be displeased with me, but the Virgin Mary, Saint Demiana and the nuns wore modest clothes,” the website quoted him as saying at the time.
Cairo-based journalist Karoline Kamel said Bishoy, who she said represents a minority in the Orthodox Church, had his hardline stance earn him the nickname of a “Salafist Orthodox bishop.”
Bishoy’s order for women to not wear pants in a church will continue in his constituency Damietta and Kafr el-Sheikh governorates, Kamel said because in her opinion “as long as a bishop does not commit a blasphemous act, Pope Tawadros II will not do anything.”“The church said all bishops are free when applying social laws as they see fit in their areas and as long as they do not commit heresy,” she said.
Ikram Lami, a Coptic analyst, also described Bishoy as a “hardliner.”
“There are extremists in all religions, and most of the time they target women as if they source of vice.”
Lami, who described Bishoy as “hardline conservative,” said Copts will vehemently reject such a decision.