August 12/14


Bible/Faith/Quotation for today/The New Life in Christ
Ephesians 04 /17-32: " In the Lord's name, then, I warn you: do not continue to live like the heathen, whose thoughts are worthless  and whose minds are in the dark. They have no part in the life that God gives, for they are completely ignorant and stubborn.  They have lost all feeling of shame; they give themselves over to vice and do all sorts of indecent things without restraint.  That was not what you learned about Christ! You certainly heard about him, and as his followers you were taught the truth that is in Jesus.  So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires.  Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, 24 and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. No more lying, then! Each of you must tell the truth to the other believer, because we are all members together in the body of Christ.  If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.  Don't give the Devil a chance.  If you used to rob, you must stop robbing and start working, in order to earn an honest living for yourself and to be able to help the poor.  Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.  And do not make God's Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God's mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free. Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort.  Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 11 & 12/14

Does the American Government Care About the Assyrians of Iraq/By Rebecca Simon/AINA/August  12/14

No Longer an Arab–Israeli Conflict/By: Mamoun Fandy/Asharq Alawsat/August 12/14
The Lebanese media failed in Arsal/By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq AlAwsat/August 12/14
Will President Erdogan Run Turkey/By: Soner Cagaptay/Washington Institute/August 12/14

Why did ISIS turn its back on Damascus and Baghdad/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiy/August 12/14

Too little too late for Iraq’s Yazidi minority/By: Abdullah Hamidaddin /Al Arabiya/August 12/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 11 & 12/14

Former Lebanon-Based American with Suspected Jihadist Allegiance Arrested in NY

Rai calls for official exams to be corrected

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Hariri: Presidential election should come first

Lebanese authorities raid Syrian refugee gatherings

Security agencies advise against election: Machnouk

MPs: Rent law won’t go into effect

Berri Rejects Talks with Terrorists over Arsal Captives, Welcomes 'Santa'

Hariri donates $15 million to rebuild Arsal

Tripoli alcohol advertising ban draws fire

Mashnouq Says Latest Saudi Grant to be Deposited in Central Bank

Qahwaji Says Army Averted Deadly Sectarian Strife, Prioritizes Release of Arsal Captives

Iraq crisis weighs on Lebanese economy: WB

Derbas: Lebanon could close border with Syria

The new Sunni Mufti election: A victory for coexistence
Hariri return boosts moderation

SCC Holds onto its Stance despite Political Calls to Resume Correction of Exams
Higher Relief Council Delegation Inspects Damage in Arsal
Fletcher Visits Hariri, Calls for Spirit of Tolerance
Kataeb: We Should Hold Presidential Elections instead of Promoting Extension of Parliament's Term
Jumblat after Talks with Hariri: Henri Helou is Our Candidate and We'll Not Abandon Him for a Settlement

EDL Contract Workers in Relentless Campaign over Employment



Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 11 & 12/14

Obama Must Attack ISIS in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain: Chaldean Patriarch

US arms rushed to Iraqi Kurds from Jordan, Israel. Al Qaeda-Sinai targets US Negev military facilities

U.S. shipping arms to Iraqi Kurdish forces

U.S. strikes have slowed Iraq militants but not weakened them: Pentagon
Defiant Maliki criticises decision to name new Iraqi PM

Iraq president names new PM but Maliki hangs tough

Arms trade flourishes in Erbil as fears of ISIS grow

Known Israel critic to lead UNHRC Gaza probe

IDF successfully tests system designed to detect terror tunnels

In first, Hamas says will not oppose Palestinian Authority forces at Rafah crossing
New talks to end Gaza war begin

Israeli negotiators in Cairo for Gaza truce talks

Saudi king discusses regional affairs, bilateral relations with Egyptian president

Erdogan’s presidential win starts race for new Turkish government

Saudi father smuggles sons to Syria, joins ISIS
ISIS beheads, crucifies in push for Syria's east
Opponents beheaded in ISIS' push for Syria's east
Kuwait revokes more citizenships citing state security
NATO chief sees 'high probability' of Russian intervention in east Ukraine
Turkish activists to send new Gaza flotilla to challenge Israeli blockade

Clooney fiancee named to U.N. commission on Gaza
Liberia puts a third province under Ebola quarantine

'IDF does not know of any infiltration tunnels crossing from Lebanon into Israel'
By BEN HARTMAN /J.Post/08/11/2014
Head of Northern Command tells front line communities in the North that the IDF is prepared to handle threat of infiltration tunnels. The IDF does not know of any infiltration tunnels crossing from Lebanon into Israel, Head of the Northern Command Major General Yair Golan said Sunday. Speaking to a forum of front line communities in Kfar Vradim in the North, Golan said that the tunnels do not pose a strategic threat on the northern border but that the IDF is prepared to handle the issue, even as they do not know of any such tunnels.
The infiltration tunnels from Gaza to Israel were used to deadly effect by Hamas during the war. Over the course of several incidents their gunmen used tunnels to enter Israel near the Gaza border and attack IDF troops with anti-tank missiles and small arms fire, taking the lives of at least 10 soldiers. The tunnels were also used by Hamas gunmen to maneuver during gunfights and to retreat safely from IDF fire. A tunnel was also used to spirit the body of soldier Hadar Goldin deeper into Gaza and away from pursuing IDF soldiers.
Though the rockets and mortars were a source of anxiety and fear for millions of Israelis, the tunnels represented a new fear, that of highly-trained gunmen popping out of the Earth and raiding border communities and killing civilians. Nightmare scenarios were repeatedly discussed in the media, including simultaneous infiltrations from tunnels across the border. Such scenarios were boosted by the discovery during the war of two motorcycles the IDF said had been stashed in a tunnel, apparently to allow gunmen to make their way far from the tunnel to major Israeli population centers. The fear of the infiltrations, along with the mortars and rockets, is one of the reasons for an exodus during the war of residents of the Gaza border communities, some of which saw more than 75% of their residents flee further north During Operation Protective Edge. While the terrain on the northern border is less easy to dig through than the soft dirt and sand surrounding Gaza, ever since the tunnels were used by Hamas in the war, the possibility of tunnels on the Lebanon border and the possibility that Hezbollah or others would use them to carry out terror attacks on northern communities has been a subject of wide discussion.
Raviv Gutman, head of security for Bar’am, the Kibbutz closest to the Lebanon border, said Monday that he believes the army is taking the issue very seriously and he is confident that when the IDF says they haven’t found tunnels, they’re telling the truth. “It’s not like you hear in the media that they’re neglecting the resident of the North. They’re taking it very seriously and as far as I know they haven’t found anything,” Gutman said, adding that just because they haven’t found any tunnels doesn’t rule out the possibility that there may be some out there. When asked what an infiltration by armed gunmen would mean for Bar’am he said it is simply “a horror movie that none of us want to think about.” Ido Gavish, the head of emergency response for Kibbutz Yiftah said that like in kibbutzim and moshavs next to the Gaza border, in Yiftah residents had also reported hearing the sounds of digging underneath their houses at night, though every report checked out as a false alarm. He said that in one case it turned out that the digging sound was caused by a broken water pipe under the house of a kibbutz resident. Gavish said “I think that the fear people have is justified, but it's baseless,” adding that he trusts the army and believes “that any officer responsible for this area wants to succeed.” Regardless of how much he and other residents of the kibbutz trust the army, he said that since the Hamas tunnel infiltrations began, the possibility of tunnels from Lebanon has become a hot topic on the pathways and communal areas of the kibbutz and has been a source of anxiety for some. That said, he added that he doesn’t know of anyone who has said they were thinking about moving out of the kibbutz because of the threat.

Tripoli alcohol advertising ban draws fire

Nizar Hassan/Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star
BEIRUT/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A recent decision by Tripoli’s mayor to ban advertisements for alcoholic drinks in the city has sparked an uproar online. While the decision was praised by some Islamist movements in the city, it has been strongly condemned by others who described it as an ISIS-like policy. “Tripoli’s mayor, Mr. Nader Mohammad Ghazal simply wants to turn the city into an Islamic emirate with his ISIS-ist decision to ban advertisements of alcoholic drinks,” said an article by the online news outlet The article called on the Interior Ministry to prevent more of what it called a decision “that brings back memories of extremist fundamentalist movements to the city.” In response to the criticism, Ghazal released a statement defending his act, saying “it was not a precedent,” because previous mayors had also taken similar measures. He said the step was a preventive measure that makes sense, especially considering the police’s goals to limit driving under the influence of alcohol. “[How] are drinks that lead to fading the mind advertised,” Ghazal said, “while the Internal Security Forces is patrolling in search for drunk drivers?” Ghazal also justified his decision by saying the ads were poorly timed, especially “in a phase where extremism is increasing in all directions.”
“The city cannot stand any provocation to any side,” Ghazal added, referring to Islamist groups that consider alcohol ads offensive. “Regardless, everyone already knows that the city's restaurants have not served alcoholic drinks for many years, so I do not know why some are considering this provocative.”In a later statement, Ghazal's defense diverted in to a legal justification for the removal of the advertisement. “This advertisement violated the rules of publication” he said. “[Rules] linked to the need for the local authority’s approval as well as the payment of license fees” he added. Tripoli’s Mayor said that the municipality removed the ad for legal considerations and not because of its content. Ghazal condemned the social media buzz over the incident, saying that online allegations aimed at violating the northern city’s communal unity and intended to distort Tripoli’s image. Mohammad Hajar, the public relations officer at Tripoli’s News Network, said it was true that most Tripoli’s restaurants avoid offering any alcoholic products. “There are only three to four places that offer alcoholic drinks,” he said.
“However, the Mina neighborhoods have many pubs and shops selling alcohol,” he said, “because they have their own municipality.” In defense of his position, Ghazal also said the ads were illegal and that they required special licenses. But his statement stressed that the other reasons for the decision were the most central. “This is not the first time we have removed billboards that we considered to be politically, socially or morally inappropriate,” he said. In response, numerous activists from city and elsewhere started a social media campaign to protest Ghazal’s decision and voice their support for a diverse Tripoli that respects the liberty of its citizens. On Twitter, an account called Tripoli Loves Beer was created, and the #Tripoli_Loves_Beer was trending among protesters.
However, the most successful campaign so far was on Facebook, where a page was created with the same name, to which people, in particular residents of Tripoli, sent photos of themselves drinking beer or other alcoholic drinks. One of the users sent a photo of a party allegedly going on in Tripoli, while another humorously edited a famous photograph that had dozens of electoral posters for different politicians, replacing every poster with an ad for Almaza, Heineken, 961 or Effes beers. According to Mohammad, an activist from Tripoli, the decision further alienates the city from other parts of Lebanon. “We do not need another incident to reinforce the stereotypes that Tripoli is an extremely conservative city with no individual liberty,” he told The Daily Star. Although Ghazal said in his statement that the ads might increase extremism, the activist had a different take on the matter. “What actually strengthens extremism is adopting policies that make this culture look more legitimate,” he said. “Incorporating Islamic Shariah in municipal laws is definitely not the best way to confront extremism.” “If that is truly the purpose, regulating Friday’s preaches at Tripoli’s mosque is the solution, not regulating the advertisements.”


Former Lebanon-Based American with Suspected Jihadist Allegiance Arrested in NY
Naharnet/An American who tweeted his allegiance to the leader of Islamic State jihadists was arrested at New York's JFK airport last week, officials said Monday. Donald Ray Morgan was taken into custody on August 2 upon his arrival from Frankfurt, according to documents filed in a federal court in Brooklyn. Morgan had spent eight months in Lebanon, where his wife lives, the New York Daily News reported. A spokesperson for prosecutors said the 44-year-old ex-convict was arrested in connection with a North Carolina indictment and charged with "being a felon in possession of firearms."Authorities also discovered that Morgan had tweeted his loyalty to the leader of the Islamic State using the alias Abu Omar al Amreeki. "The defendant expressed his allegiance to the leader of ISIS on his Twitter account: Abu Omar al Amreeki," the prosecutor's spokesperson said, without providing more details. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, said Morgan has not been charged with terrorism. There is "no indication of anything with terrorism, the charges are for fire arms violation," an FBI spokesperson said. He is currently being transported to North Carolina, according to the prosecutor's office. In mid June, Sunni Arab militants, led by jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which was later renamed the Islamic State (IS) and is sometimes referred to as ISIS, seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul as government forces took flight.Following advances, the jihadists declared an "Islamic caliphate" late that month. Renaming itself the IS, it declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "caliph" and "leader for Muslims everywhere." Agence France Presse

SCC Holds onto its Stance despite Political Calls to Resume Correction of Exams
Naharnet/The Syndicate Coordination Committee announced on Monday that it will continue its boycott of correcting the official exams until the approval of the new wage scale.
Politicians have meanwhile been demanding that teachers correct exams in order to avoid granting students certificates, indicating that they have passed their academic year, as a substitute to the exams. Education Minister Elias Bou Saab called on the committees tasked with correcting exams to do so on Tuesday. "We'll hand certificates to students if they fail to comply," he said after meeting with an SCC delegation on Monday afternoon. Earlier, head of the SCC Hanna Gharib declared during a press conference that the committee rejects the idea of certificates, demanding political blocs to “sympathize with the teachers and students” and approve the new wage. He demanded that officials “halt their stalling,” while rejecting claims of divisions within the SCC. The new school year will not begin before the approval of the new wage scale,” added the committee. It then announced that it will go ahead with the boycott, saying it will hold a sit-in in front of the Education Ministry on Tuesday morning and a general strike on Wednesday It will also hold a rally in front of the Grand Serail in Beirut. "Those who heed the minister's call to meet on Tuesday will be held accountable for their actions," it added. Teachers representing the AMAL, Free Patriotic, and Mustaqbal Movements had urged on Sunday the SCC to correct official exams. Education Minister Elias Bou Saab announced on Friday that he is going forward with issuing passing statements for Grade 12 and Grade 9 school students who have applied for official exams, calling on teachers and the SCC to end their boycott. The SCC’s suspension of the exams correction had left Grade 12 students in disarray as they are awaiting the results to enroll in university while Grade 9 students, who underwent the Brevet exams, need to pass their tests in order to enter the secondary school. Parliamentary blocs have continuously expressed their support for the employees' rights, but have warned that Lebanon's ailing economy would suffer if the total funding was not reduced from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion). They have also disagreed on how to raise taxes to fund the scale over fears of inflation and its affect on the poor. Their differences have been exacerbated by the boycott of the March 14 alliance's MPs of the sessions aimed at discussing the draft-law under the excuse that parliament should not legislate in the absence of a president.

Jumblat after Talks with Hariri: Henri Helou is Our Candidate and We'll Not Abandon Him for a Settlement

Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat announced on Monday that Aley lawmaker Henri Helou remains the Democratic Gathering bloc's candidate for office, rejecting to withdraw the MP's nomination for the sake of “any settlement.”"Seikh Saad (Hariri) and all of us are keen on electing a president and we remind you that our candidate is Henri Helou,” Jumblat said after holding talks with the former Premier and the head of al-Mustaqbal Movement at the Center House. Helou “remains our nominee and we will not withdraw his candidacy for a certain political settlement,” he added. “And if we abandon his candidacy, we would be withdrawing support for a path that we adopted and which is about moderation and centrism.”“We hope the number of votes supporting Helou would increase and if the main parties agree on a candidate, let it be a battle over votes,” he remarked. The PSP leader stressed that electing a new president is a fixed priority, highlighting that atrocities of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against Christians and Yazdis in Iraq and Syria. He said: “Vacuum harms all state institutions and we should not head to a situation similar to what is happening in Iraq.”Former President Michel Suleiman left the Baabda Palace on May 25 without a successor to rule the state in the coming six years, as differences between the March 14 and the March 8 coalition prevent the presidential polls from taking place. Jumblat told reporters after the talks with Hariri that the latter's return to Lebanon “amid a very complicated situation...deters great problems and underscores the path that his father (late PM Rafik Hariri) had taken and which is moderate Islam.”
“We might be face crises other than Arsal but with Hariri's presence and with the election of a president we will be able to confront political and social impasses,” he expressed. “All the Arab world is under threat and there is chaos in general and I think that thanks to Hariri and others' efforts, like Saudi Arabia, there is an umbrella protecting Lebanon and we have to help in this respect.”
Hariri made a surprise return on Friday after spending three years abroad. He said during a security meeting at the Grand Serail that he was tasked by Saudi King Abdullah with supervising the spending of the one billion dollar grant to the military institution and security forces. In a separate matter and earlier in the day, Jumblat stated that it has become necessary to seriously control the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon given the recent unrest in the northeastern town of Arsal and the likelihood that the conflict in the neighboring country will not end any time soon. He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anba website: “Given the recent Arsal unrest, we must reconsider the possibility of setting up refugee camps in Lebanon.” He noted that the camps will have positive repercussions on the country's security and it will help organize the spread of aid to the displaced. In addition, the MP proposed that one of the security agencies, such as the General Security, could be tasked with monitoring the flow of the refugees into Lebanon through inquiring about their status and “determining if they are indeed being persecuted or if they are seeking to carry out suspicious acts in Lebanon.”
Several officials have voiced their rejection of establishing refugee camps, warning that it may be a precursor to the eventual naturalization of the refugees. Commenting on last week's fighting in Arsal, Jumblat called for immediately launching the “widest developmental plan for the town that harbored the Lebanese army.” “The plan should create a qualitative change, not a cosmetic one, in Arsal in order to relieve its residents, who are not only suffering from daily hardships, but they are also burdened by around 100,000 refugees,” he explained. Fighting erupted on August 2 between the army and Islamist militants in Arsal in light of the arrest of a prominent member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Scores of soldiers were killed and wounded in the ensuing clashes. A ceasefire was reached on Thursday, but at least 35 troops have been held captive by the gunmen who fled the town.

Fletcher Visits Hariri, Calls for Spirit of Tolerance

Naharnet/British Ambassador Tom Fletcher said Monday that it was necessary for rival Lebanese leaders to come together to face rising threats. “It is a moment of mounting threats to the country and to its people, so it is even more important than ever that Lebanon’s leaders come together in a spirit of tolerance, moderation, and consensus,” said Fletcher following talks with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri. He called for “wisdom and courage to face together these threats” and reiterated that Britain “stands in solidarity with the Lebanese people.” The diplomat welcomed Hariri's decision to return to Beirut. “In the coming days I hope to be speaking further about ways in which we will show that when Lebanon is in trouble, Britain will remain on Lebanon’s side,” Fletcher told reporters at the Center House in Beirut.. He added that he “looked forward to meeting other leaders in the coming days we set out the ways in which we will lend out support as Lebanon circles the wagons in order to keep the conflicts out of the country.” Also Monday, several Lebanese officials, including MP Dory Chamoun, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and Internal Security Forces leader Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, visited Hariri.

Kataeb: We Should Hold Presidential Elections instead of Promoting Extension of Parliament's Term
Naharnet /The Kataeb Party warned on Monday that the extension of parliament's term is aimed at harming the role of the presidency through “indefinitely” maintaining the presidential vacuum in Lebanon.
It said in a statement after its weekly politburo meeting: “The dangerous developments that Lebanon experienced may reoccur if we do not elect a president.”“We should stage the presidential elections instead of promoting the extension of parliament's term for security or logistical purposes,” it added. “Maintaining the presidential vacuum harms Lebanon's institutions and is a precursor to destroying the Lebanese system and its historic democratic course,” continued the Kataeb Party. Furthermore, the party hailed the return to Lebanon of head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri, hoping that it should be “exploited to assert stability and pave the way restarting internal dialogue among the political foes.”The parliament has so far failed to choose a successor to President Michel Suleiman whose six-year term ended on May 25. There is a large disagreement among the rival parliamentary blocs on a compromise candidate. The vacuum at the Baabda Palace comes amid looming parliamentary elections. The legislature extended its term last year to November 20, 2014 after the MPs failed to approve a new electoral draft-law. Speaker Nabih Berri last week voiced his opposition to the extension, urging the interior minister to carry out the preparations to hold the November polls.Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat had on the other hand voiced his support on Sunday for the extension, saying that a two-year extension would substitute the failure to hold the presidential elections.

Higher Relief Council Delegation Inspects Damage in Arsal
Naharnet /A Higher Relief Council delegation headed by Major General Mohammed Kheir headed on Monday to the northeastern town of Arsal to inspect the damage caused by clashes between the Lebanese army and Islamist militants. “Our visit is to inspect the damage on the field and to prepare a plan to swiftly aid the residents,” Kheir told reporters. “This is a preliminary inspection and in 24 hours Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji will task a committee with surveying the area.” The fighting in Arsal broke out on August 2 when jihadists from Syria attacked army and police posts in Arsal after the arrest of a militant accused of belonging to Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Al-Nusra Front. During the fighting, at least 35 soldiers and policemen were seized by the militants and are still being held hostage. The Lebanese army began deploying in Arsal on Friday after Muslim Scholars Committee officials negotiated a truce that saw jihadists withdraw.The damage to private and public properties was mainly in Arsal's northwest in the areas of Ras al-Sarj and the surroundings of Abou Ismail mosque. Bashir Khodr, the governor of Baalbek and Hermel, said that residents of Arsal “were the victim of terrorism.”
“Syrian encampments are ticking bombs and what happened in the northeastern town should not occur again in any other area across Lebanon,” Khodr said. For his part, Arsal municipal chief Ali al-Hujairi considered that the recent clashes in the town were expected. “We don't want to engage in a war with anyone and we want to develop the town,” he said, demanding the state to assume its responsibilities towards Arsal. He revealed that he had warned security apparatuses three months ago that gunmen had taken control of the outskirts of the town.

Lebanese authorities raid Syrian refugee gatherings
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Security forces, along with Municipality Police, launched raids on Syrian refugee gatherings in the Beirut suburb of Dekwaneh, arresting many, a security source told The Daily Star.
Although the source declined to specify the number of detainees, they said those apprehended possessed photos of Syrian battlefields stored in their cellphones. The buildings subject to the raids are located in Ras Dekwaneh and housed hundreds of Syrian families. The raids were made in light of the last week’s clashes in Arsal, which pitted the Lebanese Army against militants from Syria, some of whom resided in informal refugee camps in the border region. The fighting raised concerns about refugee gatherings scattered across the country, particularly in the Metn region and Beirut’s northern suburbs, the source said. Earlier this week, a Syrian man sexually assaulted a girl in Dekwaneh, prompting a group of Lebanese young men to retaliate and attack the man. Minutes later, the Syrian returned with a group of 20 others who staged a revenge attack on the men, the source said. Syrians, who have mostly fled clashes in their home country and work in Lebanon’s Metn region, have also been blamed for the rise of crimes such as theft, sexual assault and drug-related offenses. Municipalities have taken measures to register refugees in their respective towns and districts, part of a nationwide plan to better control the presence of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in Syria. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army raided informal refugee camps in the eastern border towns of Hermel and Masharih al-Qaa, the National News Agency reported. The Army raided last week the largest gathering of refugees in the coastal city of Sidon as well.

Hariri: Presidential election should come first
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Monday that Parliamentary elections would not take place before the election of a new president, adding that dialogue with various political factions was still ongoing to agree on a consensus candidate. “We can’t accept the continuity of the presidential void," Hariri told reporters at his Downtown Beirut residence. "No parliamentary elections will take place before we hold presidential elections."Hariri highlighted that consultations with political groups are ongoing in an effort to reach a consensus candidate for the presidential seat. According to MTV, Harriri said that if parties failed to elect a president, then he would support the extension of Parliament's mandate as to avoid a total void in state institutions. Hariri renewed his call to political factions to sumbit their serious considerations and head to Parliament to elect a new head of state. Shortly before his statement, Hariri met with Progressive Socialist Party head Walid Jumblatt. "Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s presence in Lebanon is an essential factor in solving the country’s grave problems," Jumblatt told reporters. “The Arab world is threatened and there is general chaos but in the presence of Saad Hariri and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there is an umbrella protecting Lebanon” Jumblatt said, highlighting that “it isn’t enough to acknowledge the protective umbrella, we, as concerned parties, should also reinforce and support stabilizing the state.” The PSP leader reiterated support for his party’s candidate Henri Helou, stressing that no consensus had been reached over the upcoming President. Despite the fact that Helou has only accrued sixteen votes in Parliament, Jumblatt called for more votes, describing Helou as "a model for moderation." “The moment we let go of Helou [as a candidate], we lose the line of centrism and moderation," Jumblatt said. The Chouf MP also condemned the paralysis of all state institutions, warning of a replication of the Iraqi crisis in Lebanon.

Security agencies advise against election: Machnouk
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Monday said security agencies had advised against holding the parliamentary elections scheduled in November, in another sign that the poll will most likely be postponed again. “Security agencies advised to postpone the poll in light of the critical security situation,” Machnouk said on his Twitter feed. “The security reports I am receiving make me ethically bound from my position as a minister to shoulder my responsibility not to hold the parliamentary election on time.” He said the political decision of whether to postpone was in the hands of Parliament and Cabinet. Last year in March, lawmakers voted to extend their mandate for 17 months, citing security concerns, following months of futile talks on a draft electoral law to replace the current one – the so-called 1960 election law. Since then, MPs have failed to resume discussions on a new law amid opposition by mainly Christian parties against holding the poll based on the current electoral law.
Several officials have hinted that the poll, scheduled in November, would be delayed in light of the deteriorating security in the country due to the raging conflict in neighboring Syria.
Speaker Nabih Berri has reportedly rejected the idea of extending Parliament’s mandate a second time, saying the priority remained to elect a new president and hold the election on time.

MPs: Rent law won’t go into effect
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lawmakers who filed appeals against the controversial new rent law said Monday that it would not go into effect before its revision by Parliament, adding that revisions should cover the entire law and not just articles rejected by the Constitutional Council. “Procedurally, the law would no longer be viable for implementation until it would be reviewed by Parliament again and [after] its republication [in the Official Gazette],” MP Walid Sukkarieh said at a news conference held in Parliament. However, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said that "the new rent law is valid and effective as of December 28, 2014,” after the Constitutional Council approved the majority of articles essential to the law’s provisions.
Rifi met with the Association of Landlords headed by Joseph Zoughaib, who reiterated the justice minister's stand. Lebanon's Constitutional Council rejected several articles in the controversial law Wednesday, kicking the bill back to Parliament. The council's action means that the law, which was republished in June in the Official Gazette after a previous council rejection, can’t go in to effect in December as scheduled. For his part, Sukkarieh said that Parliament had two options: It could either review only the articles rejected by the Constitutional Council or reconsider every article in the bill. Sukkarieh said that he had initially filed an appeal against the law because its implementation would put 100,000 families out of their homes. The MP said that many of these families could not afford a hefty rent increase and would not receive a loan from the state-owned Public Housing Institute, meaning that the new rent law would either cause massive debt or would put these families on the street. Sukkarieh suggested reforming the laws regulating the institute to give every tenant the chance to receive a loan. The suggested reforms would tackle the criteria needed to qualify for a housing loan. The MP also said that government aid should not only benefit families whose income is less than half of minimum rent, stressing the need to expand government aid to tenants who surpass that threshold.
Sukkarieh also suggested dedicating government-owned land to special housing projects that could offer small apartments that would reflect the family’s size as well their income. MP Qassem Hashem also backed Sukarrieh’s statements, saying: “This law will no longer go in to effect, despite what certain people are saying, because the decision goes back to Parliament and it’s up to the council to decide whether to reform the law partially or redraft the law completely.” Lawyer Adib Zakhour, head of the lawyer committee challenging the law, said that not every article was discussed or voted on in Parliament.
“This is a violation of the internal mechanism of Parliament's work,” he said. Under the new law, tenants under pre-1992 rental contracts will face rent increases in yearly increments over a six-year period, until annual rents reach 5 percent of the current market value of the house. After being approved by Parliament this spring, the law was published in the Official Gazette a day early, which led to the Constitutional Court rejecting it. Then-President Michel Sleiman had challenged the law and asked the court to review its constitutionality, but the panel rejected both the law and the challenge because of its premature publishing. However, the law was republished in the Official Gazette in June, which meant that it was set to go in to effect six months after the date of its publication.

Hariri donates $15 million to rebuild Arsal
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced a $15 million donation to Arsal before a delegation of the town's residents Monday, vowing to help reconstruct the town after heavy clashes between the Army and militants ravaged it. “I am going to donate $15 million for the construction of schools, hospitals and necessary projects, which will be decided by a commission set up especially for that purpose,” Hariri told the delegation headed by Arsal’s mayor, Ali Hujeiri, this afternoon at his Downtown residence.
Hariri said that he would pursue all possible efforts to launch state-funded projects and services, vowing to allocate a budget to rebuild damaged houses and improve people's living conditions as much as possible. "I want to assure you that we will be careful to not to repeat what happened to Arsal in the future, and we will do everything in our power to prevent" it from happening again, he said.
Hariri said that Arsal was targeted for its allegiance to former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s vision, lauding the residents for their efforts in uncovering and disrupting the plot targeting the town.
“We will not forget that Arsal’s loyal residents stood beside us the day Rafik Hariri was martyred, nor their wide participation in the March 14 protests, and I assure you that we will reciprocate loyalty with loyalty and our stand by Arsal will continue,” he said.
Hariri praised the residents of Arsal for their support toward the Army and state institutions, saying that Arsal locals only wished for the state to grow stronger so it could protect all of its citizens.
“We refuse for any Lebanese town or city to go through what happened in Arsal,” he said, thanking God for “allowing us to go out of this crisis with the least possible amount of loss.”Separately, British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher visited Hariri at his Downtown residence Monday, pledging that his country would stand by Lebanon in the face of emerging difficulties. “[I] welcome the decision by former Prime Minister Hariri to return to Lebanon at this time,” Fletcher said after the meeting, which was also attended by former MP Ghattas Khoury. He said the significance of Hariri’s return laid in the fact that Lebanon, and the region, were facing “difficult moments.”
“It is a moment of mounting threats to the country and to its people,” he said. He said it was “even more important” that the Lebanese political leaders unite in “a spirit of tolerance, moderation and consensus” and that they show “the necessary wisdom and courage to face together these threats.”Stressing the United Kingdom’s commitment “to stand by the Lebanese people more than ever,” Fletcher said he was willing to carry out dialogue with Lebanese officials on the ways his country could assist Lebanon in difficult phases.
“In the coming days, I hope to be speaking further about ways in which we will show that when Lebanon is in trouble, Britain will remain on Lebanon’s side,” he said.
During his fourth day in Lebanon after three years of self-exile, Hariri received the head of the Lebanese General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim; head of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous; and the head of State Security, George Karaa, at his residence.Hariri had announced that his return to Lebanon was to monitor the spending of the $1 billion donation by Saudi Arabia to the Lebanese Army, adding that his role was to foster moderation and support the state in fighting terrorism. The Future Movement leader also met with the head of the National Liberal Party, Dory Chamoun, who expressed his confidence that the Sunni leader’s visit would “have a positive influence on Lebanon.”
Hariri also met with the EU ambassador to Lebanon, Angelina Eichhorst.
"I have just met with former Prime Minister and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri to welcome him back to Beirut. This is a positive step for Lebanon at a time when all forces need to unite and work together to address every challenge Lebanon is facing today. During our meeting, we discussed the overall political and security situation in the country with a particular focus on the presidential elections, the security developments, the refugee crisis and the economy,” Eichhorst said in a statement released after the meeting. On the latest incidents in Arsal, Eichhorst reiterated the EU's condemnation of the attacks on the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces. “We agreed on the importance of preserving Lebanon's stability and highlighted the need for the voice of moderation to prevail. I assured former Prime Minister Hariri of the EU's steadfast commitment to stand by Lebanon and its people in these challenging times,” Eichhorst said. For his part, the Hariri elaborated on the donation received from Saudi Arabia to support the Army and other security agencies. Hariri also met with Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblatt later Monday.

Election of the New Sunni Mufti: A victory for coexistence
The Daily Star/The election of a new grand mufti for Lebanon Sunday signaled a resounding defeat for parties that have spent several years trying to sow division in the Sunni community’s highest religious body. The overarching message of Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian’s election was one of firm consensus by leading Sunni political and religious figures. The smooth election both advanced the institution of Dar al-Fatwa and highlighted how the Sunni community is united on priority issues such as national cohesion, support for the Lebanese Army and security institutions, and upholding the Constitution.
This was evident when former Prime Minister Saad Hariri hosted the electoral body’s members and others for a luncheon afterward. The event gathered figures who have sparred in the past over Dar al-Fatwa and also saw Qabbani also take part, meaning the former mufti made a dignified exit from the political scene. Hariri stressed how long-standing support for Christian-Muslim coexistence in Lebanon would remain a cornerstone of Dar al-Fatwa – a message urgently needed today, as the region is afflicted with ultra-extremists who claim to speak and act in the name of Islam.
The array of figures who gathered for Sunday’s election and luncheon were not participating in an ordinary set of ceremonies. By coming together at this time, they delivered a strong message that by being unified on the core issues – moderation, national sovereignty, and the rule of law – their community can contribute to isolating the extremists who pose a challenge to Lebanon, the region, and the more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide.

The Lebanese media failed in Arsal
By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq AlAwsat
Monday, 11 Aug, 2014
Whether by choice or by force, the result was the same: the Lebanese media once again fell into the trap of the worst aspect of nationalism, blind loyalty. It was not limited to the sight of a newsreader wearing a military uniform in solidarity with the army, nor to lengthy and epic speeches recited by journalists and correspondents.
Lebanese coverage of the bloody confrontation in Arsal between the Lebanese army and the Al-Nusra Front’s insurgents showed the Lebanese media abandoning its professional role to report events as they are, to search for the truth, and to ask questions when necessary.
The coverage did none of these things. It was more like a Lebanese poetry festival that showcased the military’s statements, in a way that reflected badly on it. By this, I mean the naïve parroting of statements from military sources, ignoring totally the setbacks suffered by the army, and the plight of tens of thousands of besieged civilians and refugees caught under the bombardment and who suffered many casualties, including children. These victims became a direct target of the media and politicians, who accused them of allowing the insurgents into the town and giving them shelter.
Artists, journalists and various celebrities launched a solidarity campaign full of songs and resonant phrases, with words which showed a good deal of hypocrisy and hate-mongering against either the people of Arsal or the Syrian refugees, labeling them as members of the Al-Nusra Front, or simply as “terrorists.” A Lebanese journalist even issued a call via Twitter for every Lebanese to kill a Syrian, and then apologized and retracted her statement.
Yes, terrorists attacked a security post, and killed and took hostage a number of soldiers and officers. They took a whole town hostage, including Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees, who numbered more than 150,000 in total. It was one of the most serious crises experienced by Lebanon, its army and its people.
In the face of a critical fact like that, why did so much of the country’s media choose to abandon objectivity? The decision was made when the media decided on self-censorship and followed army instructions banning journalists from entering Arsal for security reasons. The media was satisfied with merely reporting the army’s statements. The news in all outlets was the same, and the pictures too. The media supported the army by agreeing to broadcast only what the army’s spokesmen said and what they allowed to be filmed, giving up on revealing what was happening in Arsal.
Yes, we should give full support to the families of the officers and soldiers who fell or were taken hostage; but what about the civilians? What about those who were besieged in Arsal, whose tents were burned down and their children killed, and whose photos were only leaked via mobile phone?
The Lebanese media as a whole did not see the story of the civilians of Arsal as their concern. The media’s response to the army’s calls exposed its biases, and this is a mistake which often shames the media and prevents the development of national, moral and professional alternatives to sectarian agendas.
The decision of Lebanese journalists to support their country’s army is right and proper, but this support is not supposed to be unquestioning. If it is, it is against the nature of journalism, and the media’s job to report the truth. How did terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria enter Lebanon? What happened in Arsal? What agreement allowed them to withdraw with the hostages? What was the role of Hezbollah? How do political divisions and Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria affect the role of the army and its authority? And why are hate campaigns against Syrian refugees tolerated? These are some of the questions which must be asked if the Lebanese media is to make up for its mistakes.

Lebanese Patriarch Rai Calls for Action in Iraq to Protect Christians
Daily Star, Lebanon/2014-08-10/BEIRUT -- Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai called Sunday for solidarity with the Christians of Iraq and asked the international community to intervene to put a stop to the persecution of Christians by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). "We pray for our national unity, and for the unity of the communities of the Middle East afflicted by divisions and wars, for the spread of peace and understanding," he said during Sunday Mass at his summer residence in Diman, north Lebanon. "We renew the patriarchate's call to the Arab League, the United Nations, the Security Council and the International Criminal Court to put a stop to ISIS' attacks and those of other fundamentalist organizations against the Christians of Mosul and the villages of Ninevah in dear Iraq, and allow the return of those Christians to their homes and properties with dignity, securing for them a decent life in their home countries with all the rights of citizens." In July, ISIS began expelling Christians from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. Earlier this month, the extremist group took over Iraq's largest Christian town. Rai lamented the fate of some 150,000 displaced Christians, some of whom have been stranded in the mountains without food or water. He went on to call for solidarity from civil and religious groups and asked members of the community to assist with providing shelter and food for Christian refugees in coordination with the Chaldean Church and other congregations. "We thank everyone who extends a hand to our Iraqi brothers who have sought refuge in Lebanon." The Maronite religious leader also touched on Lebanese politics, continuing his shame campaign against Lebanese lawmakers. "We renew our call on the conscience of parliamentarians and political blocs to respect the Constitution which obliges them ... to elect a president," he said, referring to the presidential vacancy, now in its third month. "Let us pray, brothers and sisters, that God's hand touches these hearts, and liberates [lawmakers] from interests, alliances and dependencies, and from their divisions, so that they elect a president who is the most appropriate and best given the current conditions in Lebanon and the region." He emphasized that the church does not propose or back any candidate, but would support anyone elected to the office.

Does the American Government Care About the Assyrians of Iraq?
By Rebecca Simon/2014-08-10

(AINA) -- The heart-wrenching fate of Assyrian Christians in Iraq haunts every corner of my being. I swell up over the image of fright in the tearful eye of a child next to the lifeless body of his mother. But the silent photos capturing a millisecond in the timeline of a genocide don't do justice to the horror of the calamity. The stories behind the still pictures must be even more horrific.
As an Assyrian, I could have been one of those unfortunate Assyrian sisters in Iraq but by the grace of God, I was destined to be an American. I have witnessed my country's history of unparalleled compassion towards the ill, the fallen, and the persecuted. Sadly, that history is not being played out for Assyrians. This isn't because Americans have grown callous of worldly sufferings. No, not at all. The DNA of the magnanimous American is still intact. Rather, it is our new age president and his administration that have misplaced the age-old American altruism.
To our president, a child in pain is the one whose Honduran parent paid thousands of dollars to have him adopted by America. A child in pain is the one who uses his tattooed and pierced body as a weapon in a street "knockout game". A child in pain is one hoodied if-I-had-a-son trouble maker capable of breaking a grown man's nose bone.
The Assyrian Christian kids are not even worthy of being honored by Michelle Obama's hashtag graphics campaign. No doubt the kidnapping of 200 kids by Boko Haram being forced to convert to Islam was a tragedy. But equally tragic, if not more, is the forced flight of at least 200,000 Assyrians from their homes.
And where is the outrage by the Spanish bleeding hearts: Mr. and Mrs. Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz? In their delicate artistic mind, does a Palestinian child have more right to life than an Assyrian child? One needs to read to these Spanish-Hollywood couple the bloody history of the 700-year conquest of Spain by Muslims and the forceful conversion to Islam of the Christian Spaniards.
And where are the moderate Muslims in all this? An anti-ISIS demonstration and a fundraiser benefit by many of the alleged moderate Muslims who've done pretty well in the West will go a long way in legitimizing their claims of moderation. They cry foul only when Islam is under attack but when Christianity is under assault, they see no evil, they hear no evil.
And where are the petrodollars of the Saudi's and the Kuwaiti's, who express their fear of ISIS? A few gold bath tubs and sinks in their villas could buy water to quench the thirst of 40,000 Yazidis trapped in Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq. But would charity to persecuted infidels constitute a betrayal to the Muslims?
The world seems to be conflict-fatigued dealing with other people's problems, especially if it means some military involvement.
In the meantime, one of the oldest race of people, the Assyrians, the recipients of the 21st century's first genocide award are dying a slow death on our big screen TV's. So far, they're just a news story till we find something newer to cover because advertisers know fresh stories are what keep the consumers' attention and prevent them from switching the channel. By the time, the media and the administration buries the story of the Assyrian genocide, Assyrians will be buried too, by the tens of thousands- likely without a funeral.
For now, Assyrians have an ISIS style freedom -- the liberty to choose their death by beheading or starvation.
Ironically, the freedom they didn't have in life they get in death.
I wonder if the president and his family will discuss over the dinner table "this Assyrian choice" in their upcoming 16 day vacation. Perhaps they'll rest knowing the media will portray some other entity as the responsible agent in the Iraq crisis. The media plays the political god in our country of late.
I hope this saga will be written by God fearing historians and the truth of this Holocaust will be told in its entirety, word by word, picture by picture. That may be the ultimate choice for the Assyrian martyrs.
Rebecca Simon is an Assyrian living in the United States. She is originally from Tehran, Iran. Rebecca is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a playwright, an actress, and an American political activist.

Obama Must Attack ISIS in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain: Chaldean Patriarch

(AINA) -- Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako issued a statement today on the situation of the Christians in North Iraq. The Patriarch expresses disappointment at President Obama for appearing to commit only to the protection of Arbel, saying "The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain."
Here is the full statement:
Death and sickness are grabbing the children and elderly people among the thousands of refugee families spread over the Kurdistan Region who lost everything in the recent tragic developments while the ISIS Militants are still advancing and the humanitarian aid is insufficient.
There are seventy thousand displaced Christians in Ankawa along with the other minorities in this city that has a population of more than twenty-five thousand Christians. The families who found shelter inside the churches or schools are in a rather good condition while those who are still sleeping in the streets and public parks are in a deplorable situation...
In Dohuk, the number of Christian refugees' amount to more than 60.000 and their situation is worse than those in Erbil. There are also families who found shelters in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, as well as some have arrived as far as in the capital city of Baghdad.
While the humanitarian needs are escalating: housing, food, water, medicine and funds, the lack of international coordination is slowing and limiting the realization of an effective assistance to these thousands awaiting immediate support. The Churches are offering everything within their capacity.
To summarize the situation of the Christian villages around Mosul up to the borders of Kurdistan Region: the churches are deserted and desecrated; five bishops are out of their bishoprics, the priests and nuns left their missions and institutions leaving everything behind, the families have fled with their children abandoning everything else! The level of disaster is extreme.
The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. The confirmation that this terrible situation will continue until the Iraqi Security Forces will fight along with Peshmerga against the ISIS militants is very depressing. The President of the Kurdistan Region said that the Kurdish troops are fighting with a terrorist State and not minor groups! While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power.
he end, perhaps, Mosul will not be liberated neither the villages in the Nineveh Plain. There is no strategy to dry up the sources of manpower and the resources of these Islamic terrorists. They control the oil town of Zumar and the oil fields of Ain Zalah and Batma along with the oil fields of Al-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The Islamic extremist fighters are joining them from different countries around the world.
The choices of refugee families:
Migration: where and do they have the necessary documents and money? To stay: in the halls and in the refugee camps, waiting the summer to end and winter to come? Will the schools be reopened and will their children go to elementary schools, high schools or colleges? Will they be welcomed in the schools in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah? What is the future of the properties and belongings, along with the jobs, of these thousands of innocent people forced to fee overnight from their dear villages? These are questions that should inflict pain in the conscience of every person and organization so that something should be done to save this people that have their history in this land from their beginnings.
Louis Raphael Sako
Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon
President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq
Patriarch's statement courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.
© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.

US arms rushed to Iraqi Kurds from Jordan, Israel. Al Qaeda-Sinai targets US Negev military facilities
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 11, 2014/The Kurdish Peshmerga fight against encroaching Islamic State troops gained a broad new dimension Monday, Aug. 11, when the US began airlifting large quantities of military equipment, including ordnance, from Jordan and Israel to the semiautonomous KRG capital, Irbil. The US maintains 10,000 special operations and marine forces at the King Hussein Air Base in northern Jordan, with large stocks of ammunition that were originally destined for the rebels fighting Bashar Assad in Syria. They are now being redirected to the Kurdish effort to stop the rapid Islamist march on their republic, along with supplies from the US emergency stores maintained in the Israeli Negev.
debkafile’s military sources reveal that for some weeks, those stores and other US facilities in southern Israel have been in the sights of IS elements, which arrived in Sinai six months ago to reinforce Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the local offshoot of Al Qaeda.
The US, Israel and Egypt have taken care to keep this development under their hats. But in the last month, while Israel was engaged in Operation Defensive Edge against the Palestinian Hamas, IS and Al-Maqdis shot rockts from Sinai at US and Israeli military facilities in the Negev, in support of Hamas. Their attacks were described by Western observers as intense on some days as the Palestinian rocket barrage against the Israeli population.
The speed with which the American military effort in northern Iraq has spiraled in four days - from limited air strikes on IS targets Friday, Aug. 8, to direct arms supplies Monday - will soon confront President Barack Obama with the need for a speedy decision on whether to send American troops back to Iraq.
US air strikes are clearly limited by the lack of an organized list of targets. All they can do now is bomb chance targets as they are picked up by reconnaissance planes or satellites. To be effective, the US Air Force needs to be guided in to target by special operations forces on the ground, who can supply precise data on the movements of IS fighters and mark them for air attack with laser designators.
Another shortcoming is the small number of US fighter-bombers available for Iraq. The aircraft which conducted four attacks on IS forces came from the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier in the Gulf, which has 70 warplanes on board. This is not enough aerial firepower to stop the Islamists’ advance.
They are also disadvantaged by being prevented from striking IS forces in Syria, a limitation which further curtails their effectiveness, as it did in the US war against Saddam Hussein.
In the years 2003-2007, Al Qaeda had the great advantage of an open Syrian border. Instead of maintaining the bulk of its forces in Iraq, they could slip across into Syria out of range of US attack.
Obama will not overcome any of these military issues by his determined focus on sorting out the political situation in Baghdad. Replacing Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki by having his rival, Deputy Speaker Haider al-Abadi, nominated to replace him Monday – even with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish factions who detest Maliki – won’t affect the warfront. This change may generate inter-factional violence in the capital. And it will not quickly stiffen the Iraqi Army or enhance the Kurdish Peshmerga’s ability to curb the Islamists’ rapid advance. Bringing them up to scratch by restructuring and retraining them on modern operational lines, and providing the Iraqi army with an effective air force, will take anything from two to four years.
Last week it was discovered that, among the Islamist fighters who died in US air strikes Friday and Saturday, was a large group, estimated by intelligence sources as up to 200, of American citizens fighting in the ranks of Al Qaeda’s IS in Kurdistan and western Iraq.
The Islamic State never releases facts and figures about its losses. However, Sunday, Aug. 10, a spate of threats imbued with a sense of revenge started appearing on social media, such as: “This is a message for every American citizen. You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are.” Another was more brutal: “ISIS is ready to cut off your heads, dear Americans, O sons of bitches. Come quickly.”The approaching 13th anniversary of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on America is causing concern in US intelligence and counter-terrorist quarters about possible surprises ahead.


No Longer an Arab–Israeli Conflict
Mamoun Fandy/Asharq Alawsat
Monday, 11 Aug, 2014
The war in Gaza is the second stage of a process of change regarding the nature of what used to be called “the Arab–Israeli conflict.” The first stage was the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, in which Iran, a non-Arab state, fought Israel in a proxy war via Hezbollah. The weapons, financing and training of Hezbollah is Iranian. In the recent conflict Iran has also backed both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as the leaders of both organizations, Khaled Mishal and Ramadan Shalah, who have consulted closely with Tehran. While Iran was the main player in the war of 2006, what is new this time around is that Turkey has been brought in, through an alliance with Qatar, as political backup for Hamas and as the regional sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The nature of the conflict has also changed from conventional warfare, where the armies of opposing states face each other on the battlefied, to asymmetrical warfare, where armies fight guerrilla battles against political movements in cities. The conflict that was between Arab states against Israel, and led to wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973, with the outcome of the latter leading to peace between Egypt and Israel, is no longer a reality. Israel’s wars now are with movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas, not with Arab states, and the patrons of these movements—Iran and Turkey—are obviously non-Arab.
The relative disengagement of Arab states and the anti-Hamas rhetoric in the Arab, and especially the Egyptian, media suggest a sea-change in public perception of the conflict throughout the Arab world. The anti-Turkey, anti-Iran, anti-Hamas, anti-Qatar, and anti-Brotherhood rhetoric makes the current conflict look like an Israel/Hamas–Turkey–Iran–Qatar one, with the rest of the Arab world’s support existing only on Twitter and other social media forums.
Qatar, the only Arab country actively supporting Hamas, has been isolated from the rest of the Gulf states for the last three months, after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha. Thus what used to be called an Arab–Israeli conflict is no more. What does this mean and what are its implications for wider regional stability?
In the past, Israel’s strategy has been to narrow the scope of the conflict and downscale it from an Arab–Israeli conflict to a Palestinian–Israeli conflict. In fact, the strategy looked like it was working until the recent Gaza war. Israel managed not only to make it a Palestinian–Israeli conflict, but also a war against only one faction of the Palestinian movement, Hamas, on the narrowest piece of Palestinian territory, Gaza. But the involvement of both Turkey and Iran has had the opposite effect. The conflict has been widened and regionalized rather than reduced as Israel intended.
The conflict in now regionalized at the geopolitical level, with Iran and Turkey directly involved through their backing Hezbollah and Hamas respectively. The conflict has also become religious in nature rather than ethnic, especially after the Israeli government insisted on the Jewish identity of their state. The conflict has also become more sectarian on the Arab side due to the new rift within Islam between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.
The involvement of moderate Sunni Arab states is one of nothing more than providing a forum for negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians in Cairo, or in the case of the Gulf states, providing aid for reconstructing Gaza or southern Lebanon.
Out of this, there is some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that the widening of the conflict has contributed to greater instability across the region. The recent Gaza war made Hamas, not the PLO, the darling of the radical Arab street, in much the same way that the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah made Hassan Nasrallah an Arab hero. This empowers political movements rather than states, and fuels greater violence throughout the region. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is just the most recent manifestation.
The good news, however, is that if Israel wants to strike a grand deal with the Arabs, now is the time to do it. Arab states are in their weakest political positions for a long time, and given their internal political upheavals they are ready to sign a comprehensive deal. The biggest obstacle here, however, is the Israeli side. Can Israel produce a Sadat-like figure willing to make a daring move in the same way the late Egyptian president did, by going to Cairo or Riyadh and signing a comprehensive deal? Perhaps an even more daring move would be to go to Tehran. The ball is firmly in Israel’s court now.


Will President Erdogan Run Turkey?
Soner Cagaptay /Washington Institute
August 11, 2014
Erdogan has the political and constitutional wherewithal to transform Turkey into a presidential system, and he will likely do just that.
On August 10, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been running the country since 2002, won the presidential election with 52 percent of the popular vote. Under Turkey's current parliamentary system, the prime minister is the chief executive and head of government, while the president is the nonpartisan head of state and second in line with regard to executive powers. Yet on August 4, Erdogan hinted that "he will not assume the traditional role of the president in Turkish politics," adding that he "will track all the issues and make sure that the cabinet [which includes the prime minister] and the other institutions work in accord." Can Erdogan run the country from his new post? An analysis of Turkey's constitution and political structure suggests that is likely, with implications for U.S.-Turkish relations on a variety of regional issues.
Prior to a 2007 constitutional amendment, Turkey's parliament was tasked with choosing the president -- yesterday's vote marked the first time the post was directly elected by the people. This switch notwithstanding, Turkey's political system has long had an unusually strong presidency compared to most other parliamentary democracies. Unlike in Germany, for instance, where the president plays a largely ceremonial role, the Turkish president has significant powers, including the prerogative to slow down legislation passed by the parliament, appoint judges to high courts, and chair the National Security Council (NSC). The president also has the power, rarely exercised by previous heads of state, to "call the cabinet of ministers meetings and to lead such meetings the way he or she sees fit," as stipulated by Article 104 of the constitution.
This strong presidency is a product of a tumultuous period that unfolded more than three decades ago, when stalemate between parties in the legislature led to economic collapse in 1979 and a coup in 1980. To prevent a similar meltdown, the drafters of Turkey's current constitution strengthened the presidency in 1982, allowing the head of state to interfere in the political system if necessary to break future stalemates. Yet the parliamentary system worked smoothly in the 1980s and 1990s, with no need for such intervention. Presidents remained mostly ceremonial figures, allowing the prime ministers to run the country. After the AKP's rise in 2002, President Ahmet Sezer interfered often to slow down AKP legislation. But in 2007, AKP member Abdullah Gul was elected president, and the prime minister once again took the fore.
Given this weekend's results, Erdogan could push Turkey toward a system in which the president assumes the role of chief executive, appointing a prime minister to run the cabinet for him. Erdogan is Turkey's most powerful politician, having governed the country for twelve years, longer than any other democratically elected leader. A prime minister appointed by President Erdogan would most certainly report to him rather than work with him.
Erdogan also has the legal and informal channels of power that would allow him to act as chief executive. As mentioned above, the Turkish constitution already grants the president significant powers:
Chairing NSC meetings. Previously a power center dominated by the military, the NSC was transformed following a 2003 constitutional amendment passed by the AKP, which changed the body's composition from majority military to majority civilian. At the same time, the NSC fell from prominence in the policymaking process as Prime Minister Erdogan took the helm, driving Turkey's policy on foreign and domestic security issues alike (e.g., involvement in Syria, peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party). As president, Erdogan could use his constitutionally sanctioned control over the NSC to restore its role as a key body in defining Turkey's foreign and domestic policy.
Chairing cabinet meetings. By exercising his constitutional right to lead cabinet sessions, President Erdogan could continue to run the country's daily business, particularly if he pushes for a "Putin-Medvedev model" in which he appoints the prime minister reporting to him. To be sure, Article 101 of the constitution stipulates that the president cannot have a party affiliation, so Erdogan will have to weather the risky move of resigning from the AKP. Thus far, he has kept a tight rein on the party by using his strong personality and his longstanding position as AKP chairman. Yet in 1989 and 1993, two broad right-wing coalitions similar to the AKP and also held together by dominant leaders -- Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel, respectively -- imploded when these strong leaders abandoned their party posts to become president. To avoid that outcome, Erdogan may decide to keep the AKP's reins in his hands informally by attending cabinet meetings regularly.
Exercising parliamentary powers. Article 104 of the constitution gives the president the power to "call the parliament into session when necessary." And as seen during Sezer's tenure, President Erdogan could also slow down and veto legislation under the same article. If he chose to exercise these powers, Erdogan would likely rely on his ability to exert pressure by the sheer force of his personality. He is both feared and respected by the AKP cadres and will likely retain significant influence over them -- including the AKP majority in parliament -- even after he leaves the party.
It is all but certain that Erdogan will use his strong personality and constitutional powers to continue running the government as president. He has already pointed to heavy executive involvement, stating on August 4 that it "may not be enough" for him "to meet the prime minister once a week" as previous presidents have done, suggesting more frequent contacts. His remarks about the constitution also implied that he will seek a paramount role: "Article 104 of the constitution says that the president is the head of state, and that is it." Finally, he will no doubt seek additional legitimacy in the fact that he has been elected to the presidency by popular vote, a first in Turkey's history.
Armed with the results of a landmark popular vote, liberally interpreted constitutional powers, and the fear and respect of the AKP-majority parliament, Erdogan is poised to single-handedly run the country as president. This suggests a strong Erdogan-defined tinge in Turkish politics going forward, and in U.S.-Turkish relations. The new president will likely agitate for more U.S. assistance to the Syrian rebels. He will seek U.S. assistance to bolster the Iraqi Kurds in their political struggles with the Baghdad government. And he will prioritize securing the release of Turkish hostages seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) over short-term military action that could provoke the group.
At the same time, though, Erdogan will have more room to cooperate with the United States on politically sensitive issues such as Turkey's ties with Armenia and Israel. In fact, he will likely launch a charm offensive toward Washington on issues near and dear to U.S. policymakers, restoring friendly relations with President Obama in order to secure U.S. assistance that can shield Turkey from instability in Syria and Iraq. Since he will control key levers of power, the U.S. government will have to deal with him on core issues more frequently, often skipping the traditional channels of bureaucracy and other key personalities.
***Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family Fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, and author of The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power (Potomac Books).

Why did ISIS turn its back on Damascus and Baghdad?
Monday, 11 August 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were two months ago marching south towards the gates of the Iraqi capital following their capture of the city of Mosul and after they seized control of the Anbar province. Despite that, they did not enter Baghdad. Despite all expectations, they headed north towards Kurdistan! In Syria, ISIS followed a similar course as it turned its back on Damascus and headed east towards Raqqa after it seized the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. ISIS gained an easy victory over Division 17 of the Syrian army’s Brigade 93. This strengthened the belief that the Syrian regime is intentionally giving up faraway areas to ISIS control and is settling with fighting the Free Syrian Army in Jawbar, Rokneddine and Damascus’ suburbs.
The confusing question is: Why did ISIS transfer its men to these faraway areas in Iraq’s Kurdistan and eastern Syria? Also, why hasn’t ISIS fought the regime’s main centres for almost a year now?
“The confusing question is: Why did ISIS transfer its men to these faraway areas in Iraq’s Kurdistan and eastern Syria?”
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
What we see on the map is that the terrorist organization seeks to control Sunni-populated areas and ignores others. This makes one wonder. Maybe it wants to establish its state, the caliphate, instead of getting involved in other sectarian areas which will be difficult to control. Or, it could really be working to thwart the revolution in Syria and serve Nouri al-Maliki’s regime in Iraq. This is the widely-held theory which people seem to be convinced of, especially in Syria as many think ISIS is just another organization infiltrated and controlled by the Syrian regime – just as al-Qaeda in Iraq was labeled as the resistance against American occupation.
ISIS loves to attract attention
For an organization that loves to attract attention and declare victories and which defied its rivals in broad daylight, it is illogical to back down from attacking Baghdad or Damascus just because it’s looking for safe faraway areas. Authority, influence and global attention can be garnered by fighting over capital cities. Kurdistan is a mountainous area that will not provide any added value to ISIS even if it achieves some victories in it. The same goes for eastern areas in Syria. These are all marginal areas in the struggle the two countries are facing. At the same time, we see that ISIS is threatening border areas with Turkey and Saudi Arabia - two countries which strongly disagree with the Syrian regime. This again reinforces the theory that the group has been infiltrated by the Syrian regime! Before that, all ISIS’ battles were contained to Iraq’s Sunni provinces.
Perhaps Iraq’s Kurdistan will be ISIS graveyard, especially after Peshmerga forces joined the fight and the United States became involved in the struggle for the first time since the situation deteriorated three years ago. Kurdistan is a rugged region and it will repel foreign organizations like ISIS. ISIS will not be able to influence the political situation even if it wins in some areas.
The political tug of war in Baghdad remains of grave importance because if it succeeds in removing Maliki and assigning a moderate Shiite figure as a prime minister, everyone will unite to fight against ISIS, especially amidst the increased international support centered on the call for a new government.

Too little too late for Iraq’s Yazidi minority?
Monday, 11 August 2014
Abdullah Hamidaddin /Al Arabiya
This is not the first time militants have attacked the Yazidi community. In 2007, more than 400 were killed in suicide bomb attacks. The al-Qaeda operative who masterminded the killing was later killed by the United States. However, it seems that this is the first time the community faces the threat of genocide.
Many in the region welcomed the American intervention against ISIS for a couple of reasons. However, it does not seem that saving the Yazidis was the main one. The main one is obvious: ISIS has been expanding at the expense of every power in Iraq, and there seems to be a widespread belief that it is only with U.S. intervention that they will be defeated, or their expansion thwarted. Some are hoping that the limited American intervention could pave the way to a broader intervention against ISIS. Saving the Yazidis is but one minor cause of satisfaction. As far as Iraqis are concerned, everyone is facing the threat of a violent death. The carnage that the Iraqi people have experienced, the massacre after massacre, may have left most with little regard to the concept of “ethnic cleansing.” Someone who cannot be sure that tomorrow will exist cannot fathom why saving the life of a minority is different that saving the life of anyone else.
Voices in the Arab world
There were of course many voices that are not happy with the U.S. bombing ISIS. Many of them are silent supporters of ISIS. As far as they are concerned, ISIS holds the promise of the return of Islamic rule in the Arab and Muslim world. Its violence is justified as a necessary evil to enable the group to survive and thrive amongst formidable foes. They justify the gruesome killings as tactical measures. Many of them say that there is not a real difference between what the U.S. did in Iraq or what ISIS is doing; they claim the difference is in the theatrics of killings not in the killing itself. This is, of course, a scary thought. It gets even scarier when we realize that such sentiments towards ISIS are not limited to the very religious or the radical. The sense of despair in the region is pushing the moderate towards accepting radical and violent alternatives. Many of those who justify ISIS do not agree with its ideology, nor would they want it to be active in their own countries – at least not yet – but nevertheless they see it as part of the solution for a region which has lost hope in peaceful means.
“ People are asking why was there no intervention when other groups were being slaughtered by various factions – ISIS merely being the last of many”
But the real question being asked here is why now? People are asking why was there no intervention when other groups were being slaughtered by various factions – ISIS merely being the last of many. Why was there no intervention when the Christians were being murdered and their homes being taken as booty and they were forced to flee for their lives?
The U.S. has been observing from afar the growth of ISIS; but it decided early on that this is a matter which the Iraqis have to solve by working together. The U.S. was content by the fact that ISIS is still a contained threat; that there were no spillover effects serious enough to warrant its intervention. At the same time, the U.S. thought that the threat of ISIS would bring the Iraqis together, with other players in the region, to work out a political deal which allows for the creation of a legitimate government able to secure Iraq and its borders. But that did not happen. Instead, the threat of ISIS has reached a point where the U.S. is now convinced that without it doing something, ISIS would stay much longer and its influence may reach beyond Syria and Iraq. But the U.S. needed a reason to intervene. It missed the window of the plight of the Christians, but it was not going to miss this new window. The suffering of the Yazidis and the fear of genocide gave the U.S. the excuse to send a message to ISIS and to the Iraqi government. To ISIS, that its expansion will not continue unchecked. To the Iraqi government, that they need to get their act together. Time will tell if either will understand the message or act upon it.