August 14/14


Bible/Faith/Quotation for today/Wives and Husbands
Ephesians 05 /
21-33: "Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.  And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.  He did this to dedicate the church to God by his word, after making it clean by washing it in water,  in order to present the church to himself in all its beauty—pure and faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any other imperfection.  Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. None of us ever hate our own bodies. Instead, we feed them, and take care of them, just as Christ does the church;  for we are members of his body.  As the scripture says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.”  There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the church. 33 But it also applies to you: every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband.


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 13 & 14/14

Six Steps the World Must Take Now to Stop the Horror of ISIS/By: Adel Guindy/August 14/14

The End of Maliki/By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/AsharqAlawsat/August 14/14

How ISIS leader Baghdadi toppled Maliki/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/August 14/14

Why has Iran turned its back on Iraq’s Maliki/Wednesday/By: Majid Rafizadeh /Al Arabiya/August 14/14

The Lebanese media failed in Arsal/By: Diana Moukalled /Asharq AlAwsat August 14/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 13 & 14/14

Geagea Calls for Releasing Abducted Soldiers 'Militarily,' Rejects Parliament Term Extension

ISIS delivers video of captured soldiers

Qahwaji Inspects Army Units in Arsal as Saqr Receives Cases of Jomaa, 9 Others
Nasrallah: Hamas Was Not Serious when it Called for our Help in Gaza
LebanonMuslim Clerics Hand PM a Videotape of Several Arsal Hostages

ISIS delivers video of captured soldiers

March 14 General Secretariat Demands Deployment of Army, UNIFIL on Border with Syria
Talks to free captured soldiers at impasse

Nasrallah: Hezbollah prepared for Israel showdown

Berri, Hezbollah against Parliament extension

UCC asked to end boycott after salary scale
Head of Lebanese charity dies fighting in Syria
Harb vows to boost Internet speeds

Israeli tactic to stop soldier capture criticized

Abu Faour takes action against physician

LebanonHariri Heads to Jeddah for Talks on Latest Saudi Grant
Khalil Rejects Bahia Hariri's Request of 30% Loan of the New Wage Scale as SCC Holds Onto Correction Boycott

Local NGOs Condemn Arrest of 27 over 'Homosexual Acts'

Jumblat: We Should Derive Lessons on Arab Unity in Wake of 2006 July War

Syrian National Coalition head urges Beirut to “withdraw” Hezbollah militants from Syria


Delays in offshore gas licensing bad for Lebanon

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

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 13 & 1414

Ukraine says trucks carrying purported aid from Russia won't be allowed across border

War leaves Israel a tricky economic outlook

Hamas spokesman denies any rockets fired from Gaza at Israel

Rocket Hits Israel, Gaza Truce on Brink of Collapse12 hours ago
Italian journalist killed in Gaza as truce nears end

Middle EastMaliki Continues to Defy International Pressure to Step Aside, Sistani Urges Him to Leave

Merkel Supports U.S. Strikes against Jihadists in Iraq
Islamic States Back Iraq PM Designate Abadi

Iraqi PM-designate says government formation talks underway

EU Foreign Ministers to Meet Friday over Iraq as UK Says Plan 'Under Way' to Rescue Mountain Refugees

Brazil presidential candidate dies in jet crash

Saudi Arabia gives UN $100 mln to fight terrorism

Egypt’s Mubarak denies ordering killing of protesters

Syrian National Coalition head urges Beirut to “withdraw” Hezbollah militants from Syria


Geagea Calls for Releasing Abducted Soldiers 'Militarily,' Rejects Parliament Term Extension
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea on Wednesday rejected any exchange between Roumieh inmates or other extremist detainees and soldiers kidnapped during the clashes of the northeastern town of Arsal, declaring that he supports a military operation to free the abducted troops. Geagea also announced that he rejects extending the parliament's term.
“I am against any exchange of inmates for the kidnapped soldiers and I call for freeing them militarily,” Geagea announced in an interview on MTV on Wednesday evening. “The fate of the abducted soldiers has nothing to do with the clashes' continuation... and I support a military operation to free them. Trading them for Roumieh inmates harms the Lebanese state,” he stated. Geagea said that the latest clashes in the Bekaa's Arsal was triggered by the arrest of Imad Jomaa, who is a member of the al-Qaida-affiliated Al-Nusra Front.
“The initial plan was to recruit 15,000 Syrian refugees to become fighters and exert pressure on Hizbullah,” he revealed. He considered the results of the border clashes to be “very good.” “And those who said it was a humiliating settlement want more losses among troops and the eradication of gunmen to please the Syrian regime,” he noted. On August 2, clashes erupted between the army and gunmen in Arsal in light of the arrest of Jomaa. Several soldiers were held and wounded in the unrest which ended with a ceasefire last Thursday. The gunmen withdrew from the town, abducting around 35 troops as negotiations are ongoing to ensure their safe release.
In a related matter, the Christian leader slammed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as a “big lie,” accusing the Syrian regime of being the only party supporting the extremist jihadist group.
ISIL “is formed of delinquents, criminals and other outlaws who are abusing some Koranic verses to carry out their acts,” he said, adding that the group's presence in Iraq and Syria was encouraged by the state of the chaos there. Nevertheless, he assured that ISIL's atrocities in neighbouring countries will not be repeated in Lebanon.
“No one should forget that there is a state in Lebanon and what happened in Arsal is a proof of that,” he remarked. Separately, the LF chief completely rejected extending the parliament's term. “Despite all reasons that might justify extending the parliament's mandate, we agreed in the LF to support holding the elections on time and not to vote for extension even if no presidential polls were held,” he announced.
“There are barely any arguments that justify extending the parliament's mandate.” He also revealed that during last week's extended March 14 meeting at the Center House, he failed to convince former Prime Minister and head of al-Mustaqbal Movement Saad Hariri of holding parliamentary polls on time. “And Hariri could not convince me of extending the parliament's term,” he said. Commenting on the presidential vacuum, Geagea accused the Change and Reform bloc and Hizbullah's MPs of obstructing the polls. “There are two parliamentary blocs obstructing the election of a president and we lament that the situation is going to remain the same,” the presidential candidate said. He elaborated: “The decision is in the hands of (Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel) Aoun and Hizbullah but I also think that Iran, who has suffered losses in Iraq, does not approve of another loss in Lebanon and therefore the crisis is going to continue until further notice.”He also denied that Hariri's return to Lebanon or the Arsal clashes could influence the presidential polls, stressing that he “will not adriftly withdraw (his) nomination without anything in return as long as Aoun does not want to reach a solution.”Kataeb Party leader “Sheikh Amin (Gemayel) held talks with other blocs and concluded that they are holding onto their stances towards my nomination,” he revealed. “And it is not true that my withdrawal for Gemayel's sake will change the results,” he pointed out.

Qahwaji Inspects Army Units in Arsal as Saqr Receives Cases of Jomaa, 9 Others
Naharnet/Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji arrived in the northeastern border town of Arsal on Wednesday where he inspected military units deployed in the area in light of last week's clashes with Islamist gunmen, reported LBCI television. Earlier, he had arrived via helicopter in the nearby town of al-Labweh where he visited the headquarters of the eighth brigade, said the National News Agency.
Later on Wednesday, media outlets reported that Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr has received the cases of Imad Jomaa and of nine other detainees who were arrested in light of the Arsal clashes. Al-Jadeed television noted that he will examine their cases and then file complaints against them. On August 2, clashes erupted between the army and gunmen in Arsal in light of the arrest of Jomaa, a prominent member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Several soldiers were held and wounded in the unrest which ended with a ceasefire last Thursday.
The gunmen withdrew from the town, abducting around 35 troops. Negotiations are ongoing to ensure their safe release.

Talks to free captured Lebanese soldiers By ISIS at impasse/ISIS delivers video of captured soldiers
13 August
Samya Kullab/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Negotiations to free 19 Lebanese Army soldiers and 17 Internal Security Forces personnel captured by Syrian rebels in the border town of Arsal have come to a standstill, said the Syrian go-between in contact with the militants. “Their demands are that the Roumieh inmates [members of Fatah al-Islam, arrested in 2007] be released if found innocent. They are also demanding the protection of wounded [Syrian] refugees and to ensure that refugees turned away by the regime can safely return to find asylum in Lebanon,” said Ahmad al-Qusair, a former Free Syrian Army (FSA) spokesperson and now the liaison for the Committee of Muslim Scholars with the militants in efforts to free the captured. The committee is the only line of communication between the Lebanese government and the rebels. However, Qusair said during an interview with The Daily Star that so far the negotiations were at an impasse because conceding to the militants’ demands would come at too high a cost, as far as the government was concerned. Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi has the final word in the matter of choosing to acquiesce, Qusair said. Clashes erupted between rebel militants from Syria, who had fled to the outskirts of Arsal following defeats in Qalamoun, and the Army Aug. 2, after the arrest of Imad Jomaa, the rebel commander of the Fajr al-Islam brigade. Qusair said the clashes erupted spontaneously after the Army refused to release Jomaa and were not the intended outcome. “In the beginning, the militants only wanted Jomaa,” he said. “Nabil al-Halabi [a member of the negotiating team] and I were in contact with the fighters and the Army. Three negotiation propositions were presented, including Abu Ahmad [Jomaa] being released, but only promises were made [by the government] with no guarantees.” During the early days of negotiation, Qusair’s main objective was to put the detained Jomaa in contact with his battalion. “This was rejected by the government,” he said. “The militants are still asking for Jomaa.”
The militants in Arsal fought in the Syrian towns of Qusair, al-Nabi and Yabroud, he said, and almost all have families among the refugee population in Arsal. In fact, before Jomaa was arrested in the early hours of Aug. 2, he came into the town “as a civilian” to spend the night with his wife. That morning he was on his way to the Syrian village of Jibbi, in Qalamoun, where Qusair claims fighting was ongoing between rebels and the Syrian regime. According to details relayed to Qusair by Jomaa’s driver, known as “Firas,” a Humvee belonging to the Army had chased him and captured the battalion leader alone. “ Abu Ahmad told me many times that he is completely against bringing the war to Lebanon, and he still believes that,” Qusair said. But unanswered questions remain as to what propelled the militants to exchange fire with the Army for five days. Qusair said the militants were prompted to attack because artillery had hit a refugee camp in the town, a claim contrasting sharply with the Army’s narrative that checkpoints had been attacked and their soldiers taken. “I told the guys, what you’re doing is wrong,” he said. “They answered by saying that they knew what they did was wrong, but that it was too late, because civilians have been involved, residents of Arsal and refugees.” Qusair insisted that Jomaa’s recent pledge to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria did not mean his battalion subscribed to the same methods of the group operating in northern Syria and Iraq. “ISIS in Lebanon is different than ISIS in Iraq. These used to be average FSA fighters, I used to spend time with them,” he said. “I would not have accepted to negotiate there [in Iraq], but here, I did.”Qusair became acquainted with the militants during the early days of the Syrian war. In the brief lull during the clashes in Arsal, the Committee of Muslim Scholars was allowed to enter the town and negotiate with the militants face to face. Qusair recalled being in the convoy as it came under fire, injuring committee member Sheikh Salem Rafei. “We didn’t sleep that night,” he said. “But we agreed on a few things like letting a delegation of Arsalis take the town, plus assigning Syrian activists in each of the camps, withdrawing the militants from Arsal and releasing three captives as a good will gesture.”The militants withdrew from Arsal after five days of clashes with the Army. They took the captives with them. Qusair named Abu Malek al-Shami as the key figure from the Nusra Front who led the Arsal battles. “He said to me: If there was someone else from the Nusra Front negotiating, they would not have been as nice.”

ISIS delivers video of captured soldiers
Kareem Shaheen/Rakan al-Fakih| The Daily Star

13 August
BEIRUT/LABWEH: A video of Lebanese soldiers held hostage by Islamist militants who fought the Army in Arsal last week was handed over to Prime Minister Tammam Salam, a sheikh involved in the negotiations to release them and sources close to the premier told The Daily Star Wednesday. The video depicts seven Army soldiers who were captured by the Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), during clashes which began Aug. 2 following the Army’s arrest of a Syrian commander named Imad Jomaa. In the video, the soldiers identify themselves and the units they belong to in the Army, Sheikh Adnan Amama of the Committee of Muslim Scholars told The Daily Star. Amama said the soldiers appeared to be in good health, but declined to provide their names. He confirmed that the video and the names were handed to Salam. The committee, comprised of Sunni sheikhs, was responsible for negotiating a cease-fire that ended the fighting and allowed Islamists to withdraw from Arsal. It is in negotiations for the release of the Lebanese hostages. Militants abducted at least 20 security personnel, including members of the Internal Security Forces, when they stormed a police station in Arsal at the start of the clashes. Voix du Liban identified the soldiers as Abdul Rahim Diab, Khaled Hassan, Ali al-Sayed, Hussein Ammar, Ali al-Masri, Saif Thebian and Mustafa Wahbe. The radio station said on its Twitter feed that the militants held 16 soldiers – seven with ISIS and nine with the Nusra Front. Amama said ISIS had not submitted any new demands to the government for the release of the soldiers, but had reiterated previous requests that included the protection of the refugee camps in Arsal from reprisals, as well as addressing allegations of mistreatment and torture of some individuals who were wounded during the siege of Arsal. He said ISIS had also claimed that the Army was detaining children that the military believes are fighters. “These were all concerns that they asked us to relay to the authorities before beginning to negotiate about the release of the soldiers,” Amama said. He added that the militants may provide a list of names of individuals they want freed in exchange for the soldiers, but they wanted to see “positive signs” from the government in addressing these allegations before providing such a list. He said the negotiators had not yet received any names of prisoners that the militants want released. Speculation over a possible prisoner exchange emerged late last week, with claims that the militants may demand the release of Islamists held in Lebanese prisons in order to hand over the soldiers. Fighters loyal to ISIS and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front stormed Arsal last week in a coordinated assault that prompted the Army siege. The militants withdrew to the border with Syria after five days of battles. The case of Jomaa and others arrested in connection with the Arsal events was referred to Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr Wednesday. Meanwhile, Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi made a rare visit to Lebanon’s border region, inspecting troops deployed in Arsal. Security sources said Kahwagi arrived by helicopter at the Lebanese Army barracks in Labweh amid strict security measures. From Labweh, he drove to nearby Arsal. The sources said Kahwagi left Arsal about two hours later. Kahwagi has vowed that freeing the soldiers held in captivity is the Army’s top priority. Khawagi hailed his troops for “thwarting a devious plan targeting Lebanon’s unity.” Separately, the president of a charity organization in Tripoli died while fighting in battles in Syria’s Qalamoun region, according to residents of the northern city. The head of the Al-Bashair organization, a social charity association, was killed in the ongoing fighting between Hezbollah-backed regime troops and rebel groups in the mountainous region bordering Lebanon. Abu Ahmad al-Rifai, nicknamed Abu Yasser, was buried Tuesday in his hometown of Tripoli, where many residents support the Syrian opposition and condemn Hezbollah’s role fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. A number of Tripoli residents are reportedly fighting alongside rebel groups in Syria.


Nasrallah: Hamas Was Not Serious when it Called for our Help in Gaza
Naharnet /Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated that there are “no red lines” in the “security war” with Israel, reported al-Akhbar newspaper. He told the daily in excerpts released on Wednesday: “Hamas was not serious in its call on Hizbullah for assistance in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.”He made his remarks in an interview, with al-Akhbar, that will be published on Thursday and Friday.
Commenting on regional developments, Nasrallah said: “What we have prepared for Israel was not affected by our actions in Syria.”"We are a resistance but they want us to be a Shiite party for Arabs, and as we defended the South, we will defend our entire country and our border with Syria,” he declared. "Many of those who were opposed to us are starting to change their stances,” he noted.
On July 29, Moussa Abu Marzouq, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, had hoped that Hizbullah will open a new front from southern Lebanon against Israel after it launched a campaign against Hamas in Gaza. “The resistance in Lebanon has the capability to do a lot of things,” Abu Marzouq added. Earlier in July, Nasrallah said his group will continue to stand by the Palestinian people and “all Palestinian resistance factions in Palestine.”“We are following up on all the military and political developments of the battle and we tell our brothers in Gaza that we stand by them and will do everything that we perceive as duty ” to help them, he said.

Berri, Hezbollah against Parliament extension
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri’s opposition against a second extension of Parliament's term is firm and not strategic, according to MPs who visited him Wednesday, a stance that Hezbollah appears to be supporting. “I refuse to extend Parliament’s term again, and I am not maneuvering as some may think. The extended chamber proved to be ineffective,” Berri was quoted as saying by parliamentarians. “What is the use of extending the life of a Parliament that does not legislate, does not assume its role fully,” Berri said. The speaker stressed that electing a new president of the republic was his main priority, a matter, he said, on which he agreed with the head of the Future Movement, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, at their last encounter. Asked to comment on the teachers’ boycott of grading official exams until their salaries and ranks are adjusted, Berri vowed to have the issue “on top of the agenda of the first Parliament session.” Hezbollah MPs who visited Berri at his residence in Ain al-Tineh Wednesday said the party had not taken a final decision regarding the parliament’s fate, stressing, however, that there is a tendency toward supporting the speaker’s stance. Berri’s stance flies in the face of the prevailing political attitude, which views a second extension as nearly inevitable due to the vacuum in the presidency. The Lebanese Constitution requires general election to be held by November 16, 2014. The elections, originally set for June 2013, were delayed by Parliament last May. MPs cited the security situation as the cause of the delay, but the inability of rival parties to agree on a new election law also made holding the election impossible.


March 14 General Secretariat Demands Deployment of Army, UNIFIL on Border with Syria
Naharnet/The March 14 General Secretariat called on Wednesday for a campaign to demand the Lebanese cabinet to address the possibility of controlling the country's border with Syria.
“We recommend the launching of a political-diplomatic-media campaign to press the government to discuss the possibility of deploying the Lebanese army and the international peacekeepers in accordance with (U.N. Security Council) resolution 1701,” the general secretariat said after its weekly meeting. The March 14 alliance continuously called on the state to allow the UNIFIL to deploy along the the Lebanese-Syrian border in accordance with resolution 1701, however, it was met with complete objection.Resolution 1701, which ended the Hizbullah-Israel war in 2006, expanded the mandate of UNIFIL in the South, which was originally formed in 1978 after the outbreak of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. The general secretariat also expressed solidarity with the army and the cabinet, praising the exerted efforts to ensure the safe release of security personnel, who were taken captive by Islamist gunmen in the northeastern town of Arsal. “The Lebanese must fully back the army amid the critical stage Lebanon is passing through,” the statement pointed out. Clashes erupted between troops and extremist fighters on August 2 after jihadists from Syria attacked army and police posts in Arsal after the arrest of a militant accused of belonging to the 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 March 14 general secretariat expressed concern over the direct negative repercussions of the regional developments on the country amid the ongoing presidential vacuum. “The continuous and deliberate obstruction of presidential polls by Hizbullah and its allies increased fear among the Lebanese,” the statement noted. Attendees expressed belief that electing a new head of state would provide the country with the necessary unity shield and dismantle sedition and violence.Lebanon plunged in a vacuum on May 25 when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended with MPs unable to find a successor over differences on a compromise candidate.The March 14 general secretariat then held a meeting in solidarity with its member Naufal Daou who survived on Saturday an armed ambush at the intersection of the Bekaa town of al-Tibeh.

UCC asked to end boycott after salary scale pledge
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: MP Bahia Hariri asked striking teachers Wednesday to end their boycott of grading official exams and reaffirmed the pledge made by her nephew, former prime minister Saad Hariri, that the new rank and salary scale will be passed by Parliament soon. Bahia Hariri made the request at a meeting held in Parliament with members of the teachers’ Unions Coordination Committee (UCC) in the presence of Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, according to the Voice of Lebanon radio station. The UCC was supposed to have a meeting with Saad Hariri later Wednesday, but the latter had to travel to Saudi Arabia to discuss a $1 billion Saudi grant to the Lebanese Army. Bahia Hariri, also member of the Parliament’s education committee, was quoted as saying that the former PM asked her to assure the UCC that the salary scale “will be passed.” She said that she will be contacting the minister of finance in that regard very soon, according to Voice of Lebanon. The radio station said the UCC has expressed complete trust in Saad Hariri’s promise, but is seeking a suitable scenario before Saturday for ending their boycott, while receiving a frank commitment on holding the Parliament session. The UCC appeared to be adamant on maintaining pressure on politicians over the salary scale. Teachers staged a sit-in near Parliament earlier Wednesday, vowing not to budge on their decision to continue the boycott until their demands are met. The head of the syndicate of private school teachers, Nemeh Mahfoud, decried what he called the “disgraceful treatment” of teachers pushing for their rights during a protest staged Tuesday outside the Education Ministry. “We do not accept such odious behavior against teachers, whereby certain unionists were beaten up in front of the ministry,” Mahfoud told the crowd in Riad al-Solh Square, a few blocks from Parliament. “This is militia-style conduct by the ministry, not to mention that teachers have been threatened and warned against continuing the boycott," he added. “Only when Speaker [Nabih] Berri calls for a session to pass the new salary scale, and only then, will we start correcting the exams,” he said. The salary scale issue has dragged on for several years, with progress further slowed this summer by boycott of Parliament by Christian and March 14 MPs over the presidential void.

Nasrallah: Hezbollah prepared for Israel showdown
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has said his party’s involvement in Syria will not affect their preparedness to confront Israel in any new conflict. “We will defend our country and borders with Syria just like we defended our southern border [with Israel],” Nasrallah told Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar in a wide-ranging interview to be published on Thursday and Friday.
For the first time, Nasrallah will reveal aspects of his personal life, and divulge that he was able to meet his family only once during the 34-day 2006 war with Israel. Nasrallah reportedly told Al-Akhbar that he rooted for Argentina during the World Cup 2014 finale and disclosed that he hasn't driven a car since 1986 but that that he still wanders in "the streets, places and cities." He denied having any preferences when it comes to food, adding that he has "special memories" in the Bekaa Valley city of Baalbek. In light of developments in the region, Nasrallah told the pro- Hezbollah Al-Akhbar that he has been reading extensively about the so-called Takfiri Movements, adding that he is back to reading literature. Nasrallah explained that there were “no red lines” in his party’s “security war” with Israel, adding that the Jewish State knew who took over the tasks of slain military commander Imad Mughniyeh within Hezbollah. The mastermind of Hezbollah’s military operations Mughniyeh was assassinated in Damascus in February 2008. The Hezbollah leader said there were attempts to confine Hezbollah to the role of "a Shiite Arab party merely, while we are a resistance group." He added that he watched all TV stations regardless of affiliation and was familiar with Facebook and other new media outlets with the help of aides as he is "forbidden to come near any technology," according to Al-Akhbar. Nasrallah said it was the right of the resistance in Gaza “to achieve a real victory,” but added that the recent call for Hezbollah to join the fight against Israel issued through the media by the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo, Moussa Abu Marzouk, “was not serious.” Nasrallah is expected to deliver a televised speech Friday evening, Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reported Wednesday.

The Lebanese media failed in Arsal
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Diana Moukalled /Asharq AlAwsat
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. “The Lebanese media as a whole did not see the story of the civilians of Arsal as their concern”
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 media’s response
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.

Head of Lebanese charity dies fighting in Syria
The Daily Star/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The president of a charity organization in Tripoli died while fighting in battles in Syria's Qalamoun region, according to residents of the northern city. The head of the Al-Bashair organization, a social charity association, was killed in the ongoing fighting between Hezbollah-backed regime troops and rebel groups in Qalamoun, a mountainous region bordering Lebanon. Abu Ahmad al-Rifai, nicknamed Abu Yasser, was buried Tuesday evening in his hometown of Tripoli, where many residents support the Syrian opposition and condemn Hezbollah's role fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. The organization focuses primarily on helping young boys and girls "to keep them away from bad company and unethical behavior such as drugs and alcohol and aims to avoid extremism," according to the organization’s website. It hosts sports, entertainment and educational events for the family. "It also works with other organizations and association to compensate the youth from deprivation and prejudice they face in the Tripoli society and the northern communities in terms of education and charitable work.”A number of Tripoli residents are reportedly fighting alongside rebel groups in Syria. Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, has been divided over the Syrian crisis, with Sunni supporters of the revolutions and Alawite backers of Assad clashing numerous times over the past several years.

Six Steps the World Must Take Now to Stop the Horror of ISIS

Posted: 08/11/2014
Adel Guindy/Egyptian Copt; President, Board of Coptic Solidarity
The international community's response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq driven by ISIS jihadists against minorities has been grossly inadequate and slow. The founding words of the United Nations -- "Never again" -- ring hollow as the UN and powerful member states lack the willpower to intervene and prevent the genocide of religious minorities, yet again.
As ISIS seeks to establish a Sunni Caliphate in the Middle East, their advances "bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide" against communities and individuals who do not share their faith. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities have been forced to convert, pay jizya and live in submission, or flee empty-handed.
There are plentiful accounts of the massacring of minority men, the kidnapping, rape and selling of minority women and even the murder of innocent minority children. ISIS militants killed at least 500 Yazidis, burying some alive and taking hundreds of women as slaves, an Iraqi government minister told Reuters Sunday. Cultural cleansing has reached unprecedented levels. With such abominable barbarities, humanity is facing a real incarnation of evil.
The UN Security Council's statement last week, condemning ISIS actions and calling on member states to provide humanitarian aid, rings hollow and shows duplicity when compared with others. The effacement of Europe on the international scene at this tragic moment is shameful.
President Obama has finally started to react, by authorizing limited air strikes to defend "American interests" in Iraq, bolster the threatened Kurdish region and deliver some humanitarian aid. Yet, the response is woefully inadequate. It falls far short of what the catastrophic situation on the ground requires. Essentially preserving the status quo, this response fails to make it an objective to drive the dark forces of ISIS into retreating. It also fails to recognize that ISIS is an international -- not just Iraqi -- problem, as a hotbed of terrorism makes roots in such a vital area.
In response to the current genocide and humanitarian crisis, the UN and its member states, especially the United States, need to take these six steps:
1. Authorize air strikes against ISIS by NATO or an alliance of willing countries.
2. Refer ISIS leaders to the International Criminal Court.
3. Create safe havens for the minority communities in Iraq and Syria.
4. Provide arms to the Kurdish Peshmerga for their self-defense and protection of the minorities who have sought refuge in the Kurdish-controlled region.
5. Expose and block the financial networks that support ISIS.
6. Develop a plan to assist refugees' return to their homes.
The West has blood on its hands by its past actions and inactions that helped "create" the current situation. Leaders of the international community bear responsibility for the agony and deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Now is the time for immediate action -- not for more empty, feel-good statements and posturing by the international community.
MORE: Iraq Christians Copts Six Steps Stop ISIS Stop ISIS Coptic Christians Iraq Iraq Yazidis Iraq Copts Iraqi Christians U.S. Iraq UN Iraq Six Steps ISIS U.N. Coptic ISIS Coptic Iraq Isalmic State Iraqi Yazidis Isis Isis Iraq Isil Nato Iraq

Ukraine says trucks carrying purported aid from Russia won't be allowed across border
Published August 12, 2014FoxNews.comFacebook418 Twitter713 livefyre1190

Ukraine says trucks carrying purported aid from Russia won't be allowed across border

August 12,
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said the convoy would not be allowed to pass because it had not been certified by the Red Cross. Lysenko also showed a covertly filmed video appearing to show vehicles similar to the white-canopied trucks dispatched from Moscow on Tuesday parked at a military base in Russia.
One frame displayed by Lysenko shows uniformed troops lined up in front of one of the trucks.
Russian television reported early Tuesday that trucks carrying 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid were headed to Ukraine. NTV television showed hundreds of white trucks gathered at a depot outside Moscow, and said they were carrying everything from baby food to sleeping bags. A Russian Orthodox Priest sprinkled holy water on the trucks, some of which bore a red cross, before their departure.
However, Andre Loersch, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Kiev, told The Associated Press by phone that despite the general agreement among all parties, he had "no information about the content" of the trucks and did not know where they were headed.
"At this stage we have no agreement on this, and it looks like the initiative of the Russian Federation," he said.
Lysenko added that “no military structures have the right to escort humanitarian aid convoys, especially into another state."
The government in Ukraine said it is willing for trucks from Russia to unload their contents at the border and for the aid to be transferred to transportation leased by the ICRC. At least 60 miles of the border is currently in rebel hands.
Alexander Drobyshevsky, a spokesman for Russia's emergency ministry that is conducting the mission, told the AP that his organization had "not yet defined" where the trucks would cross the border. He said it could take several days for them to reach Ukraine.
Valeriy Chaly, the deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration, said a suitable transfer point could be between Russia's Belgorod region and Ukraine's Kharkiv region, which has been spared the major unrest seen further south.
Chaly said that any attempt to take humanitarian goods into Ukraine without proper authorization would be viewed as an attack on the country.
Western officials have repeatedly expressed fears that any Russian aid mission would serve as a precursor to action by Russian ground troops. Late last week, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister David Cameron issued statements proclaiming that such action would violate international law.
Ukraine said Monday that it had agreed to send aid to the city of Lunhansk, one of two major rebel enclaves that are still holding out despite being battered by fighting. After announcing the aid mission on Monday, Obama and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed that "any Russian intervention in Ukraine without the formal, express consent and authorization would be unacceptable and a violation of international law," according to a White House statement.
Some of the heaviest impact on civilians from fighting has been seen in Luhansk. In their latest status update Monday, city authorities said the 250,000 residents remaining from the pre-war population of 420,000 had had no electricity or water supplies for nine days.
Also on Monday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Reuters that there were no signs that Russia had withdrawn any of its troops amassed at the border with Ukraine. When a reporter asked him about the possibility of a Russian invasion, Rasmussen said, "There is a high probability.
"We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation, and we see a military build-up that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine," he added.
Ukraine's military claimed that the numbers of Russian troops along the border had risen dramatically. Lysenko told The New York Times that Russia had 45,000 troops at the frontier supported by 160 tanks, 1,360 armored vehicles, 390 artillery systems, 150 truck-mounted ground-to-ground rocket launchers, 192 fighter jets and 137 helicopters. Lysenko's estimates had not been independently verified. NATO has previously estimated that 20,000 Russian troops have gathered at the border.
The United Nations has estimated that more than 1,300 people have been killed in Ukraine since April, when government forces launched a campaign to recapture eastern Ukraine from rebels who had gained control of two provinces under the banner of the Putin-coined term "New Russia."
The other major separatist-controlled city, Donetsk, has been under heavy bombardment from Ukrainian forces. Lysenko said Ukrainian forces were moving closer to encircling the city. At least 300,000 civilians, encouraged by Kiev, are believed to have fled the city, which formerly had a population of 1 million. Residents who have stayed say that mortar and artillery fire can be heard daily. There have been civilian casualties, though estimates vary widely.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Israeli tactic to stop soldier capture criticized
Aron Heller/Associated Press
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: An Israeli military tactic that allows overwhelming fire to stop the capture of soldiers – even at the risk of killing them – is facing criticism after its use in the Gaza war killed some 100 Palestinians.
The military used the “Hannibal Procedure” after soldiers feared militants had captured an officer, unleashing heavy shelling on the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Now, a group is calling on the military to abandon the practice, saying it can lead to civilian deaths and puts captured soldiers at unreasonable risk.In an army with a strong ethos of “no soldier left behind,” there is a near obsession with preventing the abduction of Israeli troops, in part because past cases have ended in painful, lopsided prisoner exchanges after years of protracted negotiations. New recruits learn that if they see a soldier being captured and rushed away in a car, they should shoot at the vehicle to stop its progress, even if it risks the soldier’s life.
The “Hannibal Procedure” was designed in the mid-1980s by Yossi Peled, then head of Israel’s Northern Command, after Hezbollah captured two soldiers in southern Lebanon.
The actual order was drafted along with two of his top staff officers, Col. Gabi Ashkenazi, who later became the Israeli military chief, and Col. Yaakov Amidror, who recently ended a term as Israel’s national security adviser. Hannibal was a legendary military commander who battled the ancient Romans, though officials say the name was selected randomly by a computer.
Peled declined to comment, but Amidror stood behind a rationale he said was misinterpreted. He said it gives young soldiers on the ground clear guidelines for such a situation.
“The order is that you cannot kill the soldier, but you can endanger him. A soldier in that situation knows he is in danger anyway,” he said. “How is it any different than giving a soldier an order to charge forward into live fire? You are also putting his life in danger that way. That’s what soldiers do.”
However, its application in the Gaza war has angered critics who say it may have led to the deaths of scores of Palestinians Aug. 1, when Israeli soldiers feared militants had captured Lt. Hadar Goldin. Hamas fire killed Goldin and two other Israeli soldiers near Rafah, along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, shortly after an internationally brokered cease-fire took effect.
According to Israeli media reports, three bodies were found at the scene shortly after the ambush, but upon closer inspection troops realized that one of them was a Hamas fighter disguised in an Israeli uniform – raising fears that Hamas had captured Goldin. That’s when “Hannibal” allegedly went into effect, with Israel unleashing a massive barrage of airstrikes and artillery fire aimed at blocking any potential escape routes for the kidnappers. Defying protocol, a fellow officer rushed into one of the tunnels and found some personal effects belonging to Goldin that helped the military later rule him dead. The military would not officially confirm whether “Hannibal” was enacted after Goldin’s disappearance, but multiple officials say the rare order was given. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
The heavy shelling leveled the area in Rafah, killing some 100 Palestinians, Palestinian health officials say. They could not offer a breakdown of the number of civilians and militants killed.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a prominent rights group, asked the government this week to strike down the doctrine and investigate its use. “A protocol that puts the life of the captured soldier in jeopardy to thwart a kidnapping is fundamentally unacceptable,” ACRI wrote to Israel’s attorney general Monday. “Implementing this protocol in populated areas, wherein the soldier and his captors are surrounded by a civilian population that is not taking part in hostilities, is strictly prohibited.”
Israel’s Justice Ministry declined to comment, merely saying it received the letter.
The fear of being captured runs deep in Israeli society, where military service is mandatory for most Jewish males. Islamist militant groups have put a premium on capturing soldiers. When they have succeeded, they have not extended international prisoner of war rights, preventing visits from the Red Cross and keeping word of their captives’ status secret.
Asa Kasher, a philosophy professor who authored the military’s official code of conduct in the 1990s, said the “Hannibal Procedure” has been grossly misunderstood and strikes a delicate balance between protecting the lives of soldiers and carrying out military responsibilities. Much of the directive remains classified, but Kasher stressed the conventional wisdom of a “dead soldier being better than a captive soldier” was a fallacy.
“That is just an awful saying and totally untrue. It goes against every value of the” Israeli military, he said. However, Tamar Feldman, an ACRI lawyer, said the practice violates the potential captive’s human rights. When employed in a crowded area like Gaza, it raised even more questions.
“A command that subjugates the life of a soldier to an unknown political gain ... is both cynical and revolting,” she wrote. “Activating this protocol in the heart of an urban and civilian environment is particularly grave; it shakes the foundations of law and morality and must be absolutely condemned.”

Syrian National Coalition head urges Beirut to “withdraw” Hezbollah militants from Syria

Thair Abbas /Asharq Alawsat
Hadi Al-Bahra blames Assad and Western indifference for rise of ISIS
Istanbul, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Lebanese government should take tangible steps to curb Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian war, the newly elected head of the Western-backed main opposition group in Syria told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday.
“We understand adopting a policy of ‘self-distancing,’ but we do not understand [Beirut’s] silence on the presence of Hezbollah’s militias in Syria and their daily crossing of the Lebanese–Syrian border without any official response from the government,” the president of the Syrian National Coalition, Hadi Al-Bahra, said in an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.
Bahra called on Beirut to address “tensions” arising from recent clashes between the Lebanese army and Islamists from Syria in the Lebanese border town of Arsal. He also urged the Lebanese government to take steps aimed at “withdrawing Hezbollah militias from Syria and ending their participation . . . alongside the [Damascus] regime in the killing of the Syrian people.”
Bahra accused Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad of facilitating the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), accusing his regime of “laying the ground for it to operate inside and outside Syria.”
However, Syria’s top opposition figure also said the international community had played a role in allowing groups like ISIS to spread by failing to back more moderate groups battling to bring down the Syrian government. He said: “We call on the international community and the Friends of Syria [to remember] that it is their duty to provide support for the Free Syrian Army in order for it to remain steadfast in the face of ISIS.”Bahra also denied widespread claims that ISIS dominated the ranks of the armed opposition within Syria itself, saying that the Coalition would not “ally with any organization that does not comply with the objectives of the [Syrian] revolution.”

The End of Maliki

By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/AsharqAlawsat
Thursday, 14 Aug, 2014
Nuri Al-Maliki, the outgoing Iraqi prime minister, could have been a historic hero, not just in Iraq, but for all Arabs and Muslims. However self-interest got the better of him, his insight betrayed him, and all his views and actions ran to narrow partisan politics.
There are politicians and leaders who are able to bear the weight of history, from one event to the next. They are able to capture the imaginations of their people with their words and inspire them. They are able to bear the wounds that they receive and still rise up. These are the few who are able to make history. While there are also those who let the moment slip through their fingers, failing to take a committed position on events but veering from one extreme to the other.
Maliki, head of Iraq’s Shi’ite-led Islamic Da’wa Party, has now lost the backing, support and goodwill of his own party and leadership. His allies in both the State of Law coalition and the Shi’ite-led Iraqi National Alliance have abandoned him. More important than this, he has lost the backing of Iran and the US, not to mention the Kurds who usually stand with Iraq’s historically marginalized Shi’ite community. Of course, Iraq’s Sunni community—whether Arab or otherwise—abandoned Maliki long ago.
Hajj Abu Esra—as Maliki is known in some corners of Iraq—is alone now, whatever he does. It does not matter if he surrounds himself with figures as stubborn, ambitious and arrogant as himself. Not only has that ship sailed, it has already run aground on the rocks of politics and international interests.
The entry of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) onto the Iraqi scene was perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back for Maliki, not to mention the ease with which it defeated his military and took over Mosul. When the world, and particularly Washington, looked to see the reason behind this scandal, it became clear that the main reason was the Iraqi people’s hatred for Maliki, including the Kurds, Sunnis and even some Shi’ites. So, this raised questions about Maliki’s administration of Iraqi affairs, and how his military is fighting the ideological “Ebola” of the modern-era, namely ISIS.
With tragic stubbornness, Maliki failed to correctly read the scene in Iraq, viewing what is good as bad and what is bad as good.
In January 2013, Maliki reached the point of no return with Iraq’s Sunnis, while he was skirting around the edges of this with the Kurds. He dealt with the Anbar uprising on a sectarian basis and called on his supporters in Baghdad to take to the streets to back his handling of the crisis. The most dangerous thing that he did was to play on the religious sentiments of Iraq’s Shi’ites. I recall a picture of Maliki that I saw at the time, he was standing in the midst of his supporters in Baghdad answering questions about the situation in Baghdad and Mosul. Underneath the image was the slogan, “Supporters of the Mukhtar of this Age,” in reference to Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi, an early Iraqi Islamic revolutionary who led a revolution against the Umayyad caliphate and remains a hero for Shi’ites in Iraq.
Maliki purposefully chose to recall the figure of Thaqafi, who captured the imagination of many Muslims, in order to defeat his political rivals and secure his grip on power, riding a wave of violent and bloodthirsty sectarian discourse.
Iraq was, and remains, a graveyard for political adventurers. Mukhtar was killed at the hands of Mus’ab Bin Al-Zubair (who went on to rule Basra), however he remained a source of inspiration for those who wanted to ride the wave of Shi’ite passions.
Has the new Mukhtar, Nuri Al-Maliki, finally been defeated? Or has he gone only to be replaced by another Mukhtar?

How ISIS leader Baghdadi toppled Maliki
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Imagine if the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) didn’t confront Nouri al-Maliki’s forces when it attacked Anbar around three months ago. Imagine if ISIS hadn’t taken over the city of Mosul on June 10. Imagine that fear and anger hadn’t found its way into Iraq as a result of the consecutive collapse of the army and the state’s security forces.
All these dangerous failures convinced the remaining constituents of the Iraqi people that Maliki is responsible for the current crisis and that his hold on power threatens the entire country, especially as he has dominated all decision-making centers, including those in the military and security fields.
ISIS under the leadership of the world number one terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi pushed Maliki towards a quick political defeat in the battle of electing a new prime minister. It came as a surprise to Maliki himself. Maliki has fortified his position to the extent that he secured enough parliamentarian votes to guarantee remaining a prime minister for another four years. This is why he defied all his rivals and why he mocked all those who were actively building alliances to topple him. When the Americans initially warned him against staying in power, he pledged to respect the democratic process and that the premiership post will be assigned to whoever wins the highest number of votes.
“Fear spread throughout Iraqi cities, particularly following the fall of Mosul”
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Although the majority of Iraqi parties, including major parties such as the Sadrist Movement, the Supreme Council, the Kurds and the Sunnis, have been working for a long time to remove him, Maliki did manage to secure the required number of votes to win! I asked more than one Iraqi politician about this and they all said they feared counting the votes as opening the parliament doors would enable Maliki to secure enough votes to impose his name on the president and thus be assigned as prime minister!
Is this an indicator that he was about to win? How did he secure this support amidst an almost full consensus to remove him?
It’s said that he used money and governmental benefits which were under his remit to buy as many votes as possible. It’s also said that he threatened his rivals, saying he would open up cases of corruption and terrorism against them.
Dirty methods
Those who opposed him escaped while those who stayed and had to submit to him did so. These dirty methods caused many Iraqi politicians to complain while admitting they could never confront Baghdad’s dictator! According to one politician, even deputies of the Arab Sunnis in parliament had pledged to vote for Maliki while tribes - whose votes got these deputies into parliament - threatened to seek revenge if they were to vote for him. Baghdadi toppled Maliki. Abu Du’a defeated Abu Esraa. ISIS exploited chaos and anger against the government as well as Maliki’s mismanagement of the armed forces in order to achieve sweeping victories. Fear spread throughout Iraqi cities, particularly following the fall of Mosul. The U.S. and Iran, the two guarantors of the new Iraqi government, felt that if Maliki were to remain in power, it could spell the end of Iraq as we know it! Maliki staying on as prime minister would divide the country, especially considering the Kurdish threat of independence. He would lead other parties to engage in a civil war and he would trigger the spread of terrorist groups. Iraq would thus turn into a hub that threatens the region and the world.
Getting rid of Maliki has become a global necessity. Electing another premier, of whom the Iraqis approve, is to be welcomed immediately. So, Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister-designate, garnered immediate global support, which Saudi Arabia and Iran lent their backing to yesterday.

Why has Iran turned its back on Iraq’s Maliki?
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
By: Majid Rafizadeh /Al Arabiya
Iran, which exerts tremendous political, social and economic influence in Iraq, and is considered to be the most significant foreign force in Baghdad, has made a critical tactical shift with regards to its foreign policy in Iraq, including the sectarian conflict, civil war, rise of ISIS and other affiliated extremist Sunni insurgencies in Iraq. After eight years of Nouri al-Maliki in office, the Islamic Republic turned its back on one of its staunchest allies. With no political, economic and military support from the Islamic Republic, the end of Maliki’s political life seems to be in the pipeline. Although Maliki might protest against such a decision, his efforts are more likely to be fruitless without enjoying the Iranian leadership’s support on his side.
“The major reason for abandoning Maliki is tactical with regards to the role of ISIS”
Majid Rafizadeh
The Islamic Republic was influential in retaining Maliki’s power and his Shiite coalition and ensuring his second term in power. Nevertheless, the Iranian authorities – particularly the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the senior cadre of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as well as Iran’s ministry of intelligence- ultimately came to the conclusion that it was time to make a tactical shift and leave behind their ally, Maliki. Nevertheless, the key question is why the Islamic Republic made such a crucial shift in its foreign policy and abandoned Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki?
The underlying reason behind Tehran’s tactical shift
First of all, Iranian leaders’ decision to abandon the entrenched prime minister and endorse Haider al-Abadi might appear to be a pro-Western strategy, specifically in favor of the US current foreign policy towards the Iraqi crisis, sectarian conflict and civil war. However, it is critical to point out that the underlying factors behind Iran’s decision to turn its back on Maliki is distinct from those of Western ones.
There are several reasons behind Iran’s shift. The major reason for abandoning Maliki is tactical with regards to the role of ISIS.
In other words, one of the most critical security threats for the Islamic Republic is the rise of ISIS and the Sunni insurgency. In addition, Iran shares a 1,500 kilometer border with Iraq. This could be utilized as a significant platform by ISIS to infiltrate several Iranian cities near the border and cause political instability for the Iranian leadership.
Secondly, many of the Iranians who reside near the border are Sunnis. The Iranian authorities are concerned that the Iranian Sunnis might be sympathetic to the Iraqi Sunni insurgency and could potentially join their cause.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the senior officials of IRGC have come to the conclusion that Maliki could not effectively control and manage the sectarian conflict, civil war, rise of ISIS and other Sunni insurgency groups.
Thirdly, the Iranian authorities are concerned that this sectarian conflict might spill over to neighboring Iranian provinces with significant Arab populations, including Khuzestan and Ahvaz.
Fourth, it is crucial to point out that without the approval of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as the senior cadre of the IRGC, it would have been relatively impossible to envision the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as new Iraqi Prime Minister.
Islamic Republic’s approval of Haider al-Abadi
The Islamic Republic’s approval of Haider al-Abadi has likely included a long process of bargaining, political pressure and negotiations between Iranian authorities and the Iraqis. As a result, from the perspectives of the Iranian leadership the prime minister nominee, Haider al-Abadi, does serve their national, security, geopolitical, strategic and ideological interests. In addition, from the perspective of the Islamic Republic, Abadi is the best alternative to Maliki, who can also serve as a credible and close ally to the Islamic Republic.
Otherwise, considering Iran’s political, social, religious, ideological, and economic influence in Iraq, the Islamic Republic would have not accepted a nomination of a new prime minister in Iraq if it did not serve its national interests. Abadi has already accepted Iran’s political assistance and role in re-stabilizing the country.
Finally, from the realms of military, economic cost and benefits and spending of political capital, Iranian authorities have made a pragmatic and calculative tactical shift. Beside economic, financial advisory and intelligence assistance, Iran has been investing its troops from the Quds force - an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps- which have been operating on the ground in Iraq in order to quell the rise and operations of ISIS and other affiliated extremist insurgencies.
Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic’s assistance to the government of Nouri al-Maliki and the ruling Shiite coalition did not completely halt the rapid advancement of ISIS fighters. The sectarian conflict, civil war and territorial and military progress of ISIS appeared to ratchet up despite the presence of Iranian ground forces.
In other words, the government of Nouri al-Maliki became a costly burden on every level for Iran. Replacing Prime Minister Maliki with Haider al-Abadi is considered a pragmatic and more cost effective option for the Iranian leadership.