LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
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 12 & 13/14
Nasrallah's failures/By: Fidaa Itani/Now Lebanon/August 13/14
ISIS’s way of war favors Assad/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/August 13/14
Children do not deserve war/Aylin Kocaman/Asharq Alawsat/August 13/14
Lebanese Related News published on August 12 & 13/14
Berri postpones presidential elections for three weeks
Islamists sought to turn Lebanon into Iraq: Kahwagi
Hariri: Military will have specialized weapons
Future bloc condemns "treacherous attack" on military
Extending mandate jeopardizes democracy: MP
Protesters Urge EDL to End 'Massacre' of Workers, Go on Open-Ended Strike
UCC accuses Saab of creating division among teachers
Geagea: Presidential Elections Will Be Staged as Soon
as Aoun Changes his Stance
Asiri Urges Support for New Mufti to Fight Extremism
Exchange of Accusations in Delay on Arms Delivery under Saudi Grant
Fattoush Submits Draft-Law to Extend Parliament’s Term
Salam Seeks Qatar, Turkey's Assistance to Ensure Safe Release of Arsal Captives
Salam: Dialogue only means for compromise
Israel Denies Discovering Hizbullah Tunnels along Border
Dispute Near Education Ministry over Official Exam Marking
Lebanese Man Linked to U.N. Deaths Agrees to be
Jumblatt warns against graft in energy sector
Option of closing Syrian border being considered
Islamists sought to turn Lebanon into Iraq: Kahwagi
Delays in offshore gas licensing bad for Lebanon
Lebanon’s new mufti in testing times: Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian
Bassil: Israel and ISIS speak same language
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 12 & 13/14
U.N. urges world to do more for Iraq's Yazidis, others
Canada Welcomes Nomination of Prime Minister in Iraq
Seven Days of Hell in Sinjar
Only unity can save Iraq
U.S. Urges New Inclusive Government in Iraq, Rules Out Sending Troops
Iran Backs Choice of New Iraq PM
Maliki was politically outmaneuvered, former ally says
Iran backs Iraqi PM replacement Haidar al-Abadi
Hamas official: This is second and final cease-fire with Israel
Bennett slams potential concessions to Hamas
Hamas: We’ll let the PA monitor Rafah crossing
Saudi FM calls for Arab unity, pledges $500m for Gaza reconstruction
Hamas agrees to allow PA to supervise Gaza crossings
IDF successfully tests system designed to detect terror tunnels
Iran slams Egypt for stalling to green light aid
Political crisis roils Baghdad as Maliki refuses to cede power
'Ethical' to use experimental drugs for Ebola: WHO
Egypt-Russia ties in focus as Sisi meets Putin
The Arab world wants friends, not masters
Canada Welcomes Nomination of Prime Minister in Iraq
August 11, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada welcomes the news today that Iraqi president Fuad Masoum has accepted the nomination of Haider al-Abadi, who comes from the largest bloc in Parliament, as prime minister-designate. Iraqis have taken another important step toward the formation of an inclusive government.
“Iraq’s constitution now requires the nominee to present a new government and national program to Iraq’s parliament for approval within 30 days. Canada calls upon all of Iraq’s political leaders to work together across sectarian and ethnic divides to ensure this is a swift, transparent and peaceful process. Only a unified, pluralistic and representative government can overcome the current crisis.
“Canada stands ready to support the people and Government of Iraq as they confront the ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] insurgency. Yesterday Canada announced an additional $5-million humanitarian assistance contribution to help Iraqis affected by violence.”
Berri postpones presidential elections for three weeks
The Lebanese Parliament, on August 12, 2014. (NOW)/BEIRUT - The Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new president again on Tuesday, as it was unable to reach a quorum due to a boycott by the Change and Reform and Loyalty to the Resistance blocs. Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the next election session until Tuesday, September 2. The two rival blocs that dominate politics been unable to choose a successor to former President Michel Suleiman, whose term expired on May 25. The Lebanese parliament has failed on nine previous occasions to elect a president, each time unable to reach a quorum as March 8 parliamentarians affiliated with Hezbollah and Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc have not attended most of the sessions.
10th Round of Presidential Elections Adjourned to September
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned on Tuesday the parliamentary session aimed at electing a president to September 2 over lack of quorum caused by boycotting blocs. The tenth round that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday met the fate of its predecessors after only around 55 MPs attended the session. The Constitution states that two-thirds of parliament's 128 members should be present to have quorum. The March 14 alliance backs Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea. But the March 8 camp refuses to officially announce its candidate despite hinting its support for Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun. But Aoun, the head of the Change and Reform bloc, has said he would only announce his candidacy if there was consensus on him. The failure to elect a president has put parliament's fate in disarray. Last year, the legislature extended its term till November 2014 after the rival lawmakers disagreed on an electoral draft-law. As the parliamentary polls are approaching, some blocs are calling for another extension while others are holding onto their stance to hold the elections after choosing a new president
Fattoush Submits Draft-Law to Extend
Naharnet/Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush submitted on Tuesday a draft-law to extend the parliament's term by two years and seven months.
“The exceptional circumstances compelled me to make this move,” Fattoush told reporters at the parliament. He pointed out that he based his decision on several legal documents, in particular the French law. Fattoush wondered if the Lebanese state could ensure the safe electoral process if the elections were staged. “The two years and seven months period is to make sure that the exceptional circumstances have vanished.”Lebanon will enter on August 20 a deadline to agree on a new electoral law ahead of the November elections. Fattoush's move comes amid an ongoing presidential deadlock that has put its weight on the parliamentary elections. Sources close to the March 14 alliance said in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper earlier on Tuesday that the coalition was mulling either staging timely parliamentary elections or extending the term of the legislature for another six months. “We reject the extension (of the parliament's tenure) for two years,” the sources pointed out. The daily quoted sources as saying that the Christian powers “must be granted the final word before any extension.”However, circles close to the Progressive Socialist Party told the newspaper that “prolonging the term of the parliament for six months is useless as nothing is expected to change during this short period of time.”Speaker Nabih Berri has continuously reiterated his rejection to extend parliament’s term. Last year, the parliament voted to extend its own mandate for 17 months after the rival political parties failed to reach a new electoral law. Around 100 MPs from all blocs, except the Change and Reform bloc, voted to extend parliament's term until November 20, 2014.
Geagea: Presidential Elections Will Be
Staged as Soon as Aoun Changes his Stance
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea condemned on Tuesday the failure to elect a president for the tenth time after the lack of quorum at parliament, holding the March 8 camp responsible for it. He said during a press conference: “The elections will be held as soon as MP Michel Aoun alters his position on the polls.”He accused the March 8 alliance of seeking to “impose Aoun's election as president.”“The other camp is not allowing us any other option to end the deadlock,” lamented Geagea, who is a presidential candidate. “The postponement of the polls is a major crime against Lebanon and the highest Christian post in the country, especially given the regional developments,” he added. Speaker Nabih Berri postponed for the tenth time the election of a president following a lack of quorum caused by a boycott of the March 8 camp's Loyalty to the Resistance and Change and Reform blocs. The dispute stems from the political blocs' failure to agree on a consensual candidate. Aoun has yet to announce his candidacy, saying he will once there is consensus over him. The eleventh presidential elections session has been scheduled for September 2.
Protesters Urge EDL to End 'Massacre'
of Workers, Go on Open-Ended Strike
Naharnet/Electricite du Liban contract workers marched on Tuesday from the company's headquarters in Beirut to the Energy Ministry where they held a protest to demand the full-time employment of all workers and announced they would go on an open-ended strike. The protesters urged politicians to fulfill their promises and described a memo handed by the EDL management to the energy ministry as a “massacre” against the workers. They briefly blocked the Emile Lahoud highway where the ministry is located and a five-member committee held talks with Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian. But the workers later announced the failure of the talks, saying they would go on an open-ended strike and erect tents at the company's HQ in Beirut's Mar Mikhael district. Their warning was followed by the closure of the highway with burning tires. Parliament adopted a law in April under which all workers would undergo an exam to fill vacant posts. Those who pass would be upgraded. But EDL said it limited the number of workers who would become full-timers to around 891. The state-run firm decided to send 1,600 of them home, head of EDL contract workers committee Lebnan Makhoul said on Monday.
Tuesday's protest came a day after the workers closed the doors of the company's branches across Lebanon. Protesters burned tires outside the company's headquarters to press for their demands. They vowed to keep holding protests until the company withdraws its decision.
Asiri Urges Support for New Mufti to
Naharnet/Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri has called for a campaign against extremism and urged the Lebanese authorities to abide by the newly-elected Mufti's roadmap to salvage the country.
But Asiri said Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan needed the support of the rest of the Sunni clerics to correct the misconceptions of some young men about Islam. “The battle against extremism does not come by force,” the diplomat told As Safir newspaper in remarks published on Tuesday. Extremist thought should be fought through moderate speeches either in mosques or political platforms, he said. Daryan is aware of the challenges facing the country and the speech he made after his election forms a roadmap to salvage the situation, Asiri told As Safir. All political parties should adopt this roadmap and his program, he said. Daryan, who was elected on Sunday, promised to strengthen the unity of the Sunni sect and defuse tension between Sunnis and Shiites. He described Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance and called for fighting militancy, extremism and violence in the name of religion.
Exchange of Accusations in Delay on
Arms Delivery under Saudi Grant
Naharnet/Saudi red tape has delayed the Lebanese army's purchase of French weapons under a $3 billion deal financed by Riyadh, diplomatic officials said despite a denial by Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri. As Safir daily on Tuesday quoted the highly-informed French diplomatic sources as saying that the military assistance to Lebanon, which was announced by Saudi King Abdullah last December, was delayed after Riyadh put restrictive conditions. Saudi authorities introduced a clause in the protocol that there would be a penalty on any side if it receives a commission on the purchase of French weapons, equipment and ammunition, the sources said. A second clause imposes another penalty if the same weapons were sold to another country with lower prices, they added. As Safir quoted an official at the French presidential palace as saying that the Saudi administrative routine is responsible for the delay in striking the deal to assist the Lebanese army and security forces. But Lebanese officials and Asiri denied the claim, without giving much details. The diplomat told the newspaper that the $3 billion is “awaiting the spending mechanism and hinges on the final deal between Lebanon and France, meaning between the seller and the buyer.”The role of the funding party comes after the deal is struck, Assiri said. The fighting between the Lebanese army and jihadists in the northeastern border town of Arsal prompted army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji to urge France to speed up the delivery of weapons. His appeal was followed by the announcement of ex-Premier Saad Hariri of a new $1 billion in Saudi aid. Al-Joumhouria newspaper said Tuesday that Lebanese security officials handed Hariri a list of their agencies' needs. It quoted security sources as saying that the list included weapons and advanced equipment that were asked for under the $3 billion grant. Part of the $1 billion grant will be handed to security agencies in cash to buy weapons and arsenal worth $500 million, the sources and Lebanese officials said. The officials told As Safir that the new military assistance will not witness a delay like its predecessor. Its results will start appearing as soon as the cabinet approves it, they said.
Dispute Near Education Ministry over
Official Exam Marking
Naharnet/The Syndicate Coordination Committee held a protest near the education ministry on Tuesday as part of a general strike aimed at pressuring lawmakers to approve the public sector wage scale and amid a showdown with the education minster and contract teachers on the correction of official exams. A dispute erupted at the protest site between the teachers in favor of correcting the exams and others rejecting to do so. SCC member Mohammed Qassem told LBCI at the rally that he “hoped the Lebanese would understand our suffering.”“We have been waiting for the wage scale for the past 3 years,” he said, stressing that the SCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, won't mark the exams. Another SCC member, Nehme Mahfoud, said Education Minister Elias Bou Saab's “attempt to strike the SCC will fail.”“We won't correct the exams,” he added. During the protest, several contract teachers entered the education ministry building to agree on the needed criteria to mark the exams. But Mahfoud tried to convince them to back off from their decision. Some SCC members chanted that they won't mark the exams while others, mainly members of the committees tasked with correcting the tests, were in favor. Bou Saab announced that if few teachers from the correction committees showed up at the education ministry, then he will begin, starting Wednesday, issuing passing statements for Grade 12 and Grade 9 school students who sat for the official exams. He appeared among protesters, saying that there were enough teachers to put the criteria.
“Around 50 or 60 teachers are preventing the rest to proceed with the correction of the exams,” Bou Saab said. They should deal with their colleagues in a civilized manner, he added.
But the head of the SCC, Hanna Gharib, and Qassem denied Bou Saab's claim. He declared during a press conference he held on Monday that the SCC rejects the idea of certificates, demanding political blocs to “sympathize with the teachers and students” and approve the new wage. In June, Bou Saab struck a deal with the SCC to hold the exams but not correct them until the salary scale was approved by the parliament. Although parliamentary blocs have expressed their support for the public sector's rights, they 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.
Salam Seeks Qatar, Turkey's Assistance
to Ensure Safe Release of Arsal Captives
Naharnet /Prime Minister Tammam Salam revealed on Tuesday that he recently contacted Qatari and Turkish authorities to help Lebanon guarantee the safe release of the security personnel taken hostage by Islamist gunmen in the northeastern town of Arsal. “Speaker Nabih Berri and I seem to have confluence on contacting Qatari and Turkish authorities to help the government ensure the safe release of the troops,” Salam said in comments published in As Safir newspaper on Tuesday. His comments come a day after Berri advised Salam to resort to the leadership of the two countries to help in resolving the matter. 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. Salam told As Safir that he had contacted emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and tackled with him the developments in Lebanon and the terrorist risks imposed on it. “Sheikh Tamim stressed to me his country's unwavering support to Lebanon,” the premier said. However, Sheikh Tamim informed the PM that contacts between Qatar and the Syrian armed groups have completely stopped. Salam also told As Safir that he couldn't contact newly-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but stressed that he will tackle the matter with him again.
Lebanese Man Linked to U.N. Deaths Agrees to be Deported
Naharnet /A man suspected in the deaths of two United Nations peacekeepers in 1980 admitted Monday that he entered the United States without proper documentation and agreed to return to his native Lebanon. Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, wants to return to Lebanon through a route that does not take him through Europe, his attorney Karim Ajluni told immigration court in Detroit. The Irish government suspects Bazzi in the deaths of two of its soldiers assigned to United Nations peacekeeping duties in Lebanon. Bazzi isn't charged with killing Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett and insists he wasn't involved. Frank Ledda, the government's lawyer in the immigration case, said Bazzi's deportation has nothing to do with those allegations. The agreement was "simply designed to remove him from the United States," Ledda said. Bazzi and his attorney wanted him to travel directly to Lebanon, but Ledda said "there is no direct route that we can travel by." Ajluni said Bazzi didn't want to travel through Europe because of the Irish government's interest in him. "We do not want any complications by any government officials or being stopped at an airport," Ajluni said. "His order is very clear. He should be deported to Lebanon."Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press that "the government hasn't agreed to avoid any specific territory." It wasn't clear when Bazzi would leave the U.S., but deportations usually take about 30 days, Ajluni said. Homeland Security officials were holding him at the St. Clair County Jail. He was arrested in Dearborn in July. Bazzi entered in 1994 and later gave false information in immigration proceedings that led officials to grant him permanent residence status in the U.S., according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "One of the agency's highest priorities is to ensure that our nation's immigration system is not exploited by those who seek to illegally gain refuge in the United States by concealing their past," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations office in Detroit. The U.S. government said Bazzi was not honest about how he entered the country when he received asylum, Ajluni said. The Detroit Free Press said he apparently entered the country on someone else's passport. Immigration Judge David Paruch warned Bazzi — whose wife and three daughters will remain in the U.S. — that he will not be allowed to return for at least 10 years without permission from the U.S. government. Bazzi told the judge that he asked his wife to pack an American flag among his belongings. "I want the American flag with me," he said. "I moved to this country and I love this country." Bazzi's daughter, Malak Bazzi, told reporters that he could face trial in Lebanon in the deaths of the Irish soldiers. "There isn't really any evidence against him," she said. "My dad's always wanted to go back to Lebanon. I hope he just stays there and lives the rest of his life." The AP left a message Monday seeking comment from Eamon Saunders, counselor for Justice and Home Affairs with the Embassy of Ireland in Washington. Saunders told reporters at an earlier hearing that his country was "interested in" Bazzi's deportation.
Hariri: Military will have specialized weapons
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri revealed Tuesday recent developments to military aid intended for the Lebanese Army, saying that financial donations would purchase specialized weapons and finance the rehabilitation of select prisons. Hariri said that security forces have “drafted the necessary lists of requirements needed to combat terrorism.”
“The Army will have special weapons and equipment that would enable them to protect the borders,” he said, to a delegation of economic and trade commissions in his Downtown Beirut residence.
Hariri also cited the upcoming rehabilitation of prisons, saying that the funds are available and supporting states are ready to offer all necessary equipment. The Future Movement head expressed hopes that positive outcomes of the newly arrived funds, most notably the $1 billion donation from Saudi Arabia, would appear in the coming months. Hariri said that investment in the country’s security contributes to overall economic growth, arguing that investment benefits from the prevalence of stability and security in the country. Lebanon’s former premier returned last week after three years in self-imposed exile over security concerns. Hariri’s return, armed with $1 billion of assistance to the Army from Saudi Arabia, saw him speak out in support of the Army’s mission against extremism in an attempt to shore up support for the military. With regards to the controversial salary scale, Hariri urged the proposal of new solutions to break the legislative deadlock over the issue. The Future bloc head said that the better proposals could have been suggested with regards to the salary scale, highlighting that a proper solution would benefit economic institutions, public servants and the country as a whole. “The way I see it, is if everyone was actually so happy with Saad Hariri’s return, and if everyone was lauding this come back, then let the occasion be one in which acceptable proposals are made in that regard,” he said.
The former prime minister warned that the salary scale is a dangerous issue that could erupt at any moment, saying that methods of accommodating the problem should be found in order to protect the Lebanese economy. “The issue has become a ticking time bomb that is a method of pressuring the entire economy,” he said. Hariri reiterated his call for presidential elections, saying that the election of a president should precede parliamentary polls. In the case the presidential stalemate continues, he said an extension of Parliament’s mandate would be necessary.
Hariri warned of a replication of the Iraqi situation, in which a complete institutional void led the country to a security crisis. In a message to his visitors, Hariri relayed his hopes that economic institutions in the country would create jobs for Lebanese youth across all sectors. Following the meeting, the former prime minister contacted Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, congratulating him on his presidential election victory.Hariri expressed hopes that Turkey “would play an advanced role in resolving the accumulating crisis in the region.”
Islamists sought to turn Lebanon into
Samia Nakhoul/Laila Bassam| Reuters
BEIRUT: Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) insurgents who seized a Lebanese border town this month planned to turn Lebanon into another Iraq by unleashing sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites that would have endangered the nation's very existence, the Army commander said. General Jean Kahwagi told Reuters that radical Islamists on the march in Iraq and Syria still posed a "great threat" to Lebanon, which was torn apart by a 1975-90 civil war and has been badly buffeted by the Syrian conflict. "The Army hit them and continues to, smashing their plan," said Kahwagi, 37 of whose soldiers were either killed or captured in the battle for the border town of Arsal. "But this does not mean that the story is over," he said. "They might think of another plan and try another time to cause Sunni-Shiite strife," said Kahwagi, 60. The Aug. 2 attack marked the most serious spillover to date of Syria's three-year-old civil war into Lebanon and the first time a foreign invader has taken Lebanese territory since Israel entered the south during its 2006 war with Hezbollah. Battle-hardened in Syria, the insurgents were members of radical Sunni groups including ISIS, which has redrawn the borders of the Middle East by seizing territory in Syria and Iraq. The group's advance has accelerated since it seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in June. Dozens of the militants were killed in Arsal during a five-day battle with the Lebanese Army, according to Army estimates. The militants withdrew into the mountainous border zone last Thursday, taking with them 19 captive soldiers.
Kahwagi, dressed in military fatigues, said the Islamists' aim had been to turn the Sunni Muslim town of Arsal into a bridgehead from which to advance on surrounding Shiite villages, igniting a sectarian fire storm he said would have destroyed Lebanon. "The strife in Iraq would have moved to Lebanon - 100 percent," said Kahwagi, a Maronite Christian. He said he was basing his assessment on the confessions of an Islamist commander whose detention on Aug. 2 was the immediate trigger for the battle. The commander, Imad Jomaa, had been "fine tuning" the plan at the time of his arrest, Kahwagi said.
Jomaa, 30, was a member of the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in the conflict, but had recently switched allegiance to ISIS. He had previously worked as a purveyor of dairy products, Kahwagi said. His confessions had led to the arrest of a number of militant cells in different parts of Lebanon, he added. "Would there have remained a state? It is a battle for the survival of the Lebanese entity," Kahwagi said. Tensions between Lebanese Shiites and Sunnis are already running high, exacerbated by the role played by the powerful Shiite group Hezbollah fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria.
Lebanese Sunnis have broadly been supportive of the uprising against Assad, a member of the Alawite sect, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Lebanon is also now home to an estimated 1.6 million Syrian refugees, most of them Sunnis. Though its arsenal is more powerful than the Lebanese Army's, Hezbollah stayed out of the Arsal battle, wary of wider sectarian strife in a country already hit by suicide bombings, gun battles and rocket attacks linked to the Syrian war. The arrival of ISIS fighters waving the group's black flag on the northeastern border triggered panic in a country that is home to many religious groups at risk from a movement that has beheaded and crucified its opponents.
Kahwagi said: "If the world and the people give up, then the black flag will arrive in Lebanon. But the people are with the Army and they won't let them arrive."The Army has been crucial to holding the Lebanese state together since the civil war. It recruits from across the religious spectrum and is more widely trusted than other security agencies that have a more sectarian character.
Outside Kahwagi's office at the Ministry of Defence in the hills outside Beirut, where he spoke to Reuters this week, a cartoon shows a soldier carrying a map of Lebanon on his back.
The Arsal crisis rallied all of Lebanon's main leaders, including Sunni politician Saad Hariri, around the Army. Kahwagi described Hariri's backing as crucial. He "sensed the degree of danger to Lebanon," he said. Hariri returned to Lebanon Friday for the first time since 2011, ending his self-imposed exile following the downfall of his government in order to buttress the moderate Sunni camp against radicals who have gained ground during his absence. He brought with him a $1 billion grant from his regional patron Saudi Arabia - aid designed to help the Lebanese security forces fight Sunni extremists. "He was obliged to return to fill the (Sunni leadership) vacuum," Kahwagi said. The Saudi aid comes on top of a previous pledge of $3 billion in military aid from Riyadh. The Beirut government has asked France to accelerate the delivery of weapons due to be procured with that grant. Kahwagi said his priority was to secure warplanes - both fixed wing and helicopters - to support his land forces.
Many Lebanese believe Kahwagi is now more likely than ever to fill the post of the presidency, vacant since Michel Sleiman's term expired in May. The presidency is reserved for a Maronite according to Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system. Sleiman and his predecessor, Emile Lahoud, were both former Army commanders. Kahwagi declined to answer questions on Lebanon's political outlook, and dismissed speculation that his chances of becoming head of state had now increased. "What is happening is more important than the subject of the presidency," he said. "If they had succeeded in what they were planning ... the very foundations of Lebanon would have changed."
By: Fidaa Itani/Now Lebanon
When the war is over, the “era of victories” will have come to an end yet again
Hezbollah did not manage to achieve victory in the Qalamoun battles. Rather than scoring a decisive victory in Yabroud following the fall of Qusayr, it invaded this Syrian town, leading thousands of Islamist and non-Islamist Syrian fighters to deploy in the highlands and into the Lebanese highlands. They thus threatened sensitive Hezbollah positions and depleted its fighters in long and harsh guerilla wars fought in a rugged area they know well. They ultimately occupied Arsal, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) had to negotiate and seek a settlement with them.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is no longer the most popular figure in the Arab world and among Muslims worldwide. In fact, he lost the support of hundreds of millions of people due to narrow-minded sectarian calculations, as he invested himself as a hired gun so as to preserve a past epitomized by the Syrian regime and prevent the progress of life which took the shape – in 2011 – of a generalized popular uprising in the Arab world. In so doing, Nasrallah sided with the most backward of Arab forces, namely Arab regimes, whether those whose rulers have been toppled, are moribund and terrified that the fire of Arab revolutions will reach them, or those that would rather fight the Islamic State (IS) than hear screams of “the people want to bring down the regime.”
In addition to losing the popularity he gained through resistance against Israel, Nasrallah also lost irremediably the legend known as “the end of the era of defeats and the start of the era of victories.” Either that, or the man’s credibility is going through a serious crisis.
In 2012, Nasrallah took to justifying the death of several Hezbollah fighters in Syria by claiming that they were fighting on an individual basis to defend Lebanese residents of Syrian towns, rather than in Hezbollah-sponsored patterns. Yet since mid-2011, Hezbollah had been training thousands of Lebanese and Syrian youths in several combat camps. Leaked obituaries for fallen fighters whose families refused to remain silent mentioned that Hezbollah operatives had died “while on jihad duty.”
Hezbollah and Nasrallah later gave their intervention in Syria a clear label – namely, protecting the Sayyidah Zaynab shrine. As Hezbollah operatives deployed in the area, heated battles erupted with local Syrian youths who targeted the area simply because Hezbollah was stationed in it.
In 2013, the party expanded the slogan justifying its intervention, now claiming that it aimed to protect holy shrines in general, announcing – albeit unofficially – that it was intervening in several areas. Such announcements took the shape of party-controlled leaks so that it would not have to either divulge or deny information. It then became clear that Hezbollah was involved in fighting from the governorate of Aleppo to the governorate of Damascus, going as far as some areas in the governorate of Daraa.
Once again, Hezbollah modified its political slogans, saying that it was aimed at preventing the fall of the Syrian regime and had been the last to intervene in the Syrian war, as Nasrallah declared towards the end of 2013. Nasrallah repeatedly invoked this idea. Indeed, the party had long accused other parties of interfering in Syria, including the Future Movement, the Salafists in the north, and residents of Arsal or other areas. The purpose was always to justify the Party’s fighting in a foreign country.
Hezbollah subsequently added to its slogans the claim that its intervention in Syria was merely preemptive war. It argued that it was fighting takfiris there before they came “to fight us” and Nasrallah asserted that the Lebanese would, one day, thank him for it.
As the bodies of more and more young men who had fought in Syria came back, they brought with them the news of how harsh it was to fight there and to bring down towns controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or Islamist fighters. But none of Hezbollah’s slogans have been achieved so far.
Nasrallah has lost all the credit he had accumulated over a long struggle against Israel on the Lebanese political scene. After three years of fighting in Syria, it turns out that the man was preparing his supporters with a rhetoric that drowned them in the Syrian war, drowning Lebanon along with them. Hezbollah thus went from individual fighters rushing to defend Lebanese villages in Syria on a personal basis to military mobilization, estimated by some specialized services at 15,000 field fighters and some 30,000 others in Lebanon as backup for their comrades fighting all over Syria. The Party managed to convince its supporters to overlook this huge difference in less than two years.
Hezbollah groups were able to protect the villages mentioned by Nasrallah, albeit at a heavy cost of lives. But they put Lebanese security in danger, especially in those regions where Hezbollah bases and sympathizers are to be found.
Furthermore, protecting holy shrines prompted several massacres in adjacent regions, as well as increased Sunni-Shiite animosity. Party leadership actually sought that animosity to help mobilize its supporters and urge them to take part in the fighting.
The third slogan Hezbollah was unable to put into practice was preventing the fall of the Syrian regime, which has practically been the case since the first days of the Syrian revolution. In fact, all that remains of it are restructured military and security services. Whether Hezbollah and its secretary general like it or not, any solution in Syria will have to take the shape of a foreign political settlement in which the Syrian regime and people would stand to lose the most.
The greatest defeat Hezbollah is promising to his public takes the shape of the confrontation with takfiri forces. Indeed, the party’s continuous incitement naturally extended to media affiliated with it, and has exacerbated Sunni popular mobilization in general. One result, among others, has been Sunni support shifting from the Future Movement to Jabhat al-Nusra, which along with other Syrian fighting groups, has crept quite close to Hezbollah’s long-range missile outposts in the Lebanese highlands. Saad Hariri has had to return to Lebanon toting $1 billion as a Saudi donation to unify the Sunni ranks “as best as possible.”
Hezbollah has forgotten two important lessons, the first of which was from Iraq. Iraqi Sunnis were promised that they would be involved in the political process in 2007 and they liquidated Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s organizations themselves, even though they had sponsored them for more than three years.
By allowing the party to be dragged into the Syrian quagmire, Nasrallah also forgot a lesson he himself had taught the Israelis in the 2006 July War. The secret reason the Israelis were politically defeated was because they adopted a high-pitched political rhetoric and put forward slogans that could not be realistically achieved unless they paid a huge toll in human lives, a price politicians in Tel Aviv were reluctant to pay at the time. Today Nasrallah is brandishing slogans for each period in Syria, but he certainly has no control over the human or political costs needed to achieve victory over the Syrian people – or the takfiris, as he would rather refer to them – despite what he has promised his supporters.
The takfiris are multiplying proportionately to the number of Hezbollah fighters dispatched to Syria. Nasrallah’s promises are self-contradictory and he has once again been cornered into adopting increasingly heated political rhetoric and high-pitched slogans. Yet his public will discover one day that they have entered a 1,000-year war and that it will not end anytime soon, at least not during the lifetime of its discredited secretary general. When the war is over, the “era of victories” will have come to an end yet again.
U.S. Urges New Inclusive Government in Iraq, Rules Out Sending Troops
Naharnet /U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday urged Iraqi prime minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi quickly to form an inclusive government, while ruling out sending U.S. combat troops to the country. "We are urging him to form a new cabinet as swiftly as possible and the U.S. stands ready to support a new and inclusive Iraqi government and particularly its fight against ISIL," he said after annual security talks in Australia. "Let me be very clear, we have always wanted an inclusive government that represents ... all Iraqis. That is the goal." He added that it was important "the forces of Iraq are not a personal force defined by one particular sect and sworn to allegiance to one particular leader, but they truly represent Iraq and Iraq's future in a broad-based sense".
"And I think that everybody understands that is the direction we have to go," he said.
"Nobody, I think, is looking towards a return to the road that we've travelled.
"What we are really looking for here is a way to support Iraq, to support their forces -- either training or equipment or assistance of one kind or another -- that can help them to stand on their own two feet and defend their nation." Iraq moved closer to ending Nuri al-Maliki's stubborn grip on power as prime minister on Monday when his own political clan spurned him for Abadi.
Abadi, a Kurd long considered a close Maliki ally, has 30 days to form a government, amid hopes that a broad-based cabinet could serve as a foundation for healing Iraq's deep sectarian divides.
While the U.S. has been conducting air strikes against extremist Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, Kerry said combat troops would not be sent in.
"There will be no reintroduction of American combat forces into Iraq. This is a fight that Iraqis need to join on behalf of Iraq," he said.
But the United States is helping ship weapons to the Iraqi Kurdish forces battling an advance by the jihadists, the State Department said. The Islamic State was previously known as ISIL.
U.S. aircraft have also been airdropping aid to refugees from the Yazidi religious minority who are trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq, surrounded by extremists from the Islamic State.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Iraqi government requested the help.
"As you know, it was the Iraqi government that requested the U.S. assistance with humanitarian delivery," he said in Sydney.
"We agreed with that request. We are carrying out those missions. "It was also the Iraqi government's request of the United States to assist them with transporting military equipment to Arbil to help the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters)." He added that the military equipment being shipped was Iraqi. "We are -- American forces, through CENTCOM -- are helping get that equipment to Arbil."
Agence France Presse
Israel Denies Discovering Hizbullah Tunnels along Border
Naharnet /Israel expressed concern recently that Hizbullah might be using smuggling tunnels in the Jewish state's north similar to those build by Hamas in the south, media reports said on Tuesday.
However, the head of the Israeli Northern Command, Major General Yair Golan, assured that these tunnels, if they exist, don't pose a threat along the frontier with Lebanon as reports remain baseless.
“At the moment there are no known attack tunnels coming from Lebanon," Israeli websites quoted Golan as saying.
Hizbullah, according to recent reports, might have been constructing the required tunnel infrastructure in South Lebanon to carry out attacks against Israel.
Golan claimed that “missiles and Iranian constructed rockets still pose a greater threat on the northern front than the possibility of smuggling tunnels being built to infiltrate northern towns and kibbutzim.”
The Israeli official stressed that Hizbullah “tunnels were not at the moment a primary threat,” pointing out that the Israeli army “will be prepared to confront such a threat if necessary,” in particular after the Operation of Protective Edge. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on Gaza on July 8 to stop rocket attacks on its territory and later expanded it with a ground offensive to destroy a network of attack tunnels. The conflict has now killed more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers. The Israeli official claimed that the army destroyed a total of 32 tunnels along the Gaza border.
Iran Backs Choice of New Iraq PM
Naharnet/Iran, a key ally of Iraq's sidelined Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said Tuesday it backed the legal process which led to him being replaced, following the nomination of Haidar al-Abadi as premier.
The statement was the first official signal that Maliki no longer enjoys the support of his fellow Shiite leaders and politicians in Tehran to stay on as head of government in Baghdad. Ali Shamkhani, secretary and representative of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Iran's Supreme National Security Council, made the remarks at a meeting of Iranian ambassadors in Tehran, the Fars and Mehr news agencies said."The framework provided by the Iraqi constitution stipulates that the prime minister has been chosen by the majority group in the parliament," Shamkhani said. Iran was influential in ensuring that Maliki retained the post of prime minister and served a second term following Iraq's inconclusive general election in 2010. Although Maliki won the largest number of seats in elections last April, the country's politics have been overshadowed by a jihadist surge in the north, which he has failed to quell. On Monday, Iraq's President Fuad Masum tasked Abadi, who was deputy speaker in parliament, with forming a new government in a move angrily denounced by Maliki. Iran's Shamkhani called on "all groups and coalitions in Iraq to protect the national interest," taking into account the need to "deal with external threats". Iran has expressed support for Maliki throughout the battle against Islamic State militants but has also called for national unity and said it would back the Baghdad parliament's choice of prime minister. SourceAgence France Presse
Egypt-Russia ties in focus as Sisi meets Putin
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi headed to Russia early Tuesday to meet with his counterpart Vladimir Putin. During his visit, Sisi is expected to discuss bilateral cooperation as well as economic cooperation, regional and international issues. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Libyan crisis are also due to be addressed by the leaders. Earlier this week Sisi was in Saudi Arabia for his first official visit to the kingdom where he met with King Abdullah. In February, Sisi, the then Egyptian army chief and defense minister, headed to Russia to discuss military cooperation with Putin. Putin, was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Sisi on his presidential election victory and attended his inauguration ceremony.
Iran backs Iraqi PM replacement Haidar al-Abadi
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Iran, a key ally of Iraq’s sidelined Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said Tuesday it backed the legal process to pick his replacement, following the nomination of Haidar al-Abadi as new head of government, Agence France-Presse reported. Ali Shamkhani, secretary and representative of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Iran's Supreme National Security Council, made the remarks at a meeting of Iranian ambassadors in Tehran, the Fars and Mehr news agencies said. "The framework provided by the Iraqi constitution stipulates that the prime minister has been chosen by the majority group in the parliament," Shamkhani said. The statement was the first official signal that Maliki no longer enjoys the support of his fellow Shiite leaders and politicians in Tehran to stay on as head of government in Baghdad. Iranian officials had said recently that Iran believed Maliki was no longer able to hold his country together and that it was looking for an alternative leader to combat a Sunni Islamist insurgency.
Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged al-Abadi to quickly form an inclusive government, while ruling out sending U.S. combat troops to the country.
“We are urging him to form a new cabinet as swiftly as possible and the US stands ready to support a new and inclusive Iraqi government and particularly its fight against ISIS,” he said.
“There will be no reintroduction of American combat forces into Iraq. This is a fight that Iraqis need to join on behalf of Iraq,” he added.
Kerry’s comments in Sydney follow a statement from President Barack Obama that Iraq had taken “a promising step forward” in designating Haider al-Abadi as its new prime minister.
The Secretary of State also said that the United States and Australia agreed to take concerns about the threat posed by militant foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to the United Nations.
“We intend to join together in order to bring this to the United Nations meeting this month and put it on the agenda in a way that will elicit support from the source countries as well as those countries of concern,” Kerry said after joint security talks. The issue of foreigners traveling to conflicts to join militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was discussed between U.S. and Australian officials in Sydney, spurred by images of a Sydney-raised boy holding the severed head of soldier in Syria. Kerry said Australia and the U.S. had agreed to “work together to assemble a compendium of the best practices in the world together regarding those foreign fighters”.
EU meeting on Iraq
Meanwhile, France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said his European colleagues should be recalled from their holidays for an urgent meeting about delivering arms to Kurds fighting Islamic extremists in Iraq. “I have asked (EU foreign affairs supremo Catherine) Ashton to bring together the (EU) foreign affairs council as quickly as possible so we can take decisions on this matter,” Fabius told French radio.
“There is still no date and I ask again that this be done urgently,” he said. “I know that in the West, we are in the holiday period but when there are people dying ... you have to come back from your holidays,” he stressed.
Removing Maliki: The end of a nightmare
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 /Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
We have not known Iraqi, regional and international enthusiasm like what we’ve seen in the past few days to remove Nouri al-Maliki from the Iraqi premiership. Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Arabs, Americans and the United Nations have all agreed on removing Maliki.
Haider al-Abadi’s name suddenly became one of the most
famous and most popular after he agreed to confront Maliki and replace him as
Now, there are temporarily two states in Iraq. The first one is the Iraqi one, and the second one is illegal and it’s the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are also two prime ministers in Iraq. The first one is Abadi who represents the representatives of the parliamentary majority and the second one is Maliki whose term ended and who insists on claiming legitimacy.
“In order to stay in power, Maliki has tried all tricks and failed”. Abadi will find unprecedented support as a result of Maliki’s bad actions which tore Iraq apart into troubled sectarian areas and led to struggles with the Kurds, and led to terrorists’ seizure of major areas and horrific massacres. All this is due to Maliki’s government which was concerned about serving Maliki himself and engaged in battles at the expanse of the state and the entire country.
Maliki has tried all tricks
In order to stay in power, Maliki has tried all tricks and failed. He deployed his tanks a night before removing him and accused the new president of violating the constitution. Yesterday morning, he tried to fabricate a statement in the name of the constitutional court then he gathered marginal figures from the Dawa Party claiming Abadi does not represent the bloc and only represents himself.
I think we will see Baghdad restoring its vitality and ordinary life. Arab, Iranian and western delegations will visit it to congratulate the prime minister who represents Iraqi consensus. We will see that there’s an expanded Iraqi agreement that represents the first real patriotic unity whose first duty includes fighting the terrorist ISIS and restoring powers which Maliki eliminated to work within constitutional legitimacy instead of taking up arms. Abadi must reassure the Kurds, reconcile Arab Sunnis, restore relations with angry Shiite powers, be open to Gulf countries, reactivate the Iraqi role and head towards constructing the country and enhancing the livelihood of all Iraqis.
The Arab world wants friends, not masters
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Khaled Almaeena /Al Arabia
The savage bombing of Gaza, its total demolishing and the targeted killing of Palestinian children by Israeli airstrikes truly shocked people across the world.
Images of blown-apart children, mutilated bodies, burned out mosques and churches gained worldwide attention, perhaps not through mainstream media as much as through Twitter and Facebook.
Social media highlighted the Palestinian plight and human suffering, the holocaust, the annihilation of a people whose only request is to live in freedom, peace and dignity.
“The West should understand that while we have failed in some aspects yet we have a desire to stride forward and progress”
But the mainstream media in the United States adopted a totally callous approach. Almost all mainstream networks, such as CNN, Fox and their affiliates went ballistic accusing Hamas of “attacking Israel,” holding the movement responsible for the current situation and threatening the security and stability of Israel!
Some anchormen even fabricated lies.
Others totally ignored the Palestinian side and focused on imaginary tunnels and rockets!
They conveniently omitted to bring to everybody’s attention that supplied American weapons, bombs and rockets were blowing children to bits, killing the sick and elderly in the hospitals and killing and maiming worshipers as they prayed during the holy nights of Ramadan.
Not a war, a massacre
This was not a war. It was a massacre goaded by the U.S. media. The media, which was blatantly biased, indirectly encouraged it by blanking out the attacks and creating hysteria.
Media depravity reached new heights when even live programs were censored by the previously respected C-SPAN. Members of academia who were critical of the genocide were brushed aside or not given space or airtime.
While Latin American countries, themselves the victims of American foreign policy, stood up and questioned the Palestinian genocide, no European or Western leader had the guts even to whimper.
The U.S. government and its lawmakers followed the media in asking for Hamas to stop its aggression!
Canada was a bigger culprit and I would really ask our businessmen to stop meeting any Canadian delegation like what has been done with the Russians. This move should apply to the European Union countries and the United States, which was the most belligerent.
Obama signed extra funds for Israel’s Iron Dome program and huge shipments of laser guided bombs and rockets were dispatched to replenish Israeli arms stocks. To these European countries and the U.S. the lives of Palestinians are not worth anything.
To them, we Arabs are just a market, gas stations and a people that can be swayed by words of "you are allies and trading partners."
This may have been the case before but the Arab masses are now waking to this fact. And what they are seeing is unpalatable. They now want to be taken seriously and treated at par.
No more trade delegations that include diehard Zionists more intent on selling and cheating and filling their pockets. No more journalists who come here looking for domestic issues, no more lack of empathy and no more taking us for granted.
No peace without justice
The West should understand that while we have failed in some aspects yet we have a desire to stride forward and progress.
To do that we need peace and you cannot have peace without justice and giving the Palestinian people their rights. You cannot have peace when the hopes and aspirations of people are trampled upon. You cannot have peace if the West completely ignores human rights issues and, on the contrary, strengthens totalitarian regimes for economic gains.
All these machinations have to stop immediately. Otherwise the West will find itself facing the scourge of terrorist acts that will sadly develop from these injustices, as those who have no recourse to legal process will resort to terror. The West should treat us as equals. We want friends, not masters.
ISIS’s way of war favors Assad
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Two months ago, fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were marching south towards the gates of Baghdad following their capture of Mosul and Anbar province. Despite that, they did not enter the capital; against all expectations, they headed north towards Kurdistan. In Syria, ISIS followed a similar course, turning its back on Damascus and heading east to Raqqa after it seized the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. ISIS gained an easy victory over Division 17 of the Syrian army’s 93rd Brigade. This strengthened the belief that the Syrian regime was intentionally giving up outlying areas to ISIS control and was settling for fighting the Free Syrian Army in Jobar, Rokneddin, and the Damascus suburbs.
The confusing question is: why did ISIS transfer its men to these faraway areas in Iraqi Kurdistan and eastern Syria? Also, why hasn’t ISIS attacked the Syrian military’s bases for almost a year now?
Based on what we see on the map, ISIS seeks to take control of Sunni-populated areas and ignores others. This makes one wonder. Maybe it wants to establish itself as a state or caliphate instead of getting involved in areas populated by other sects, which would be difficult to control. Or, it could really be working to thwart the revolution in Syria and serve Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s regime in Iraq. This is a widely held theory of which some people seem to be convinced, especially in Syria, where 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 US occupation.
For an organization that loves to attract attention and trumpet its victories, it is illogical for it 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’s battles were confined to Iraq’s Sunni provinces. Perhaps Iraqi Kurdistan will become ISIS’s graveyard, especially since Peshmerga forces joined the fight and the US became involved in the struggle for the first time since the situation began to deteriorate three years ago. Kurdistan is a rugged region and it will repel foreign organizations such as ISIS; the group 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 promoting a moderate Shi’ite figure as a prime minister, everyone will unite to fight against ISIS, especially amid the increased international support centered on the call for a new government.
Children do not deserve war
Aylin Kocaman/Asharq Alawsat
Tuesday, 12 Aug, 2014
Issa is 10 years old. His whole life has changed since the Syrian conflict began. The streets where he lives are filled with destroyed buildings. He cannot attend school. Most of his friends have died or gone. Because of the war he is now a child worker in the Free Syrian Army’s arms factory in Aleppo, alongside his father. He carries shells and repairs rocket launchers. His life now consists of weapons, war and death. But Issa is not alone here, of course. Nearly half of Syria’s population of 22 million has been displaced, 75 percent of them women and children. The US occupation of Iraq left 5 million orphaned children behind. The latest crisis in Iraq has made the situation even worse for children. In addition to those exposed to violence, many of the displaced, refugees, and those starving up in the mountains are children. Let us remember that children make up 37 percent of the population of Iraq. The damage done to children by war goes further than death and physical injury. Children are also trained as soldiers in almost all areas where there are civil wars and where radical organizations and guerrilla forces replace regular armies. Child soldiers are known to be used in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, and particularly in Iraq by ISIS, and some have even been trained as suicide bombers. Majed, a 16-year-old Al-Nusra Front child soldier, said that many children like him joined the organization in the town of Dera’a on the Jordanian border, were trained as snipers, and carried equipment to the front; some have long since lost their lives. Yet we are unaware of the precise number of these children forced into war. They never appear on the lists of dead soldiers or dead victims. The picture in Africa, which has been largely abandoned by the world, despite its wealth, is deplorable. Children are conscripted in eight countries in Africa because of problems with terrorism. Many terror organizations in conflict regions across the world use children to fight. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has an appalling record, thousands of children have died in civil conflict since the 1990s. Other organizations that use child soldiers are the Seleka and Anti-Balaka militias in the Central African Republic and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Readers will recall that children represented the majority of both agressors and victims during Sierra Leone’s civil war. War is not the only problem facing children in Africa. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 842 million people went without adequate food during 2011–2013. According to World Food Program figures, 3 million children die of malnutrition each year.
Although the situation in Africa is particularly bad, the situation is also troubling in other countries. Afghanistan and North Korea are some of the countries in Asia most troubled by hunger. According to the UN, 55 percent of children in Afghanistan are stunted due to malnutrition. According to The Lancet medical journal, in the world as a whole in 2011, the equivalent of one child under 10 years of age starved to death every 10 seconds, every hour of every day. Jean Ziegler, a member of the UN Human Rights Council, said in 2012 that our planet has sufficient resources to feed 12 billion people, almost twice its current population. He adds, “If today people are still starving, then this is organized crime, mass murder.”How ironic that in a world of selfishness, where money is hoarded instead of being used, where ethnic, religious and ideological radicalism can easily lead to war and conflict, it is children, who do not even know the meaning of these words, who pay the price. Children know no hatred, anger or jealousy; they are unaware of a world dominated by hatred and anger. As they are trained to fight they cannot realize why they are being propelled into conflicts that are meaningless to them. They are naïve, tender and unable to defend themselves. It is they who die the most easily. It is they who feel most defenseless and who are most uneasy about being unable to adapt to the ruthless world of adults. They do not deserve to be dragged from the ruins of bombed houses, to stand guard by the bodies of their families slaughtered in war, or to have to play in the muddy fields of refugee camps. Children are a source of joy, the future. Can you imagine the kind of tragedy that is presaged by depriving them of their joy and making them part of a system which turns them into killers? Should we not be raising them as the hope for the future, as envoys of love and peace? Or are some people determined, as they have abandoned their own love, to deprive them of the love with which they were created?