LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible/Faith/Quotation for today/If a Christian commits suicide, is he/she still saved?
GotQuestions.org/Answer: It is a sad fact
that some Christians have committed suicide. Adding to the tragedy is the
false teaching that committing suicide automatically consigns one to hell.
Many believe that a Christian who commits suicide will not be saved. This
teaching is not supported in the Bible. Scripture teaches that, from the
moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John
3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that
they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian
from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). No “created thing” can separate a
Christian from God’s love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a
“created thing”; therefore, not even suicide can separate a Christian from
God’s love. Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a
time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, his sin is still
covered by the blood of Christ. According to the Bible, suicide is not what
determines whether a person gains entrance into heaven. If an unsaved person
commits suicide, he has done nothing but “expedite” his journey to hell.
However, that person who committed suicide will ultimately be in hell for
rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide (see
John 3:18). We should also point out, however, that no one truly knows what
was happening in a person’s heart the moment he or she died. Some people
have “deathbed conversions” and accept Christ in the moments before death.
It is possible that a suicide could have a last-second change of heart and
cry out for God’s mercy. We leave such judgments to God (1 Samuel 16:7).The
suicide of a believer is evidence that anyone can struggle with despair and
that our enemy, Satan, is “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
Suicide is still a serious sin against God. According to the Bible, suicide
is murder; it is always wrong. Christians are called to live their lives for
God, and the decision of when to die is God’s and God’s alone.
May God grant grace and the psalmist’s perspective to each one who is facing trials today: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 16 & 17/14
Waving Goodbye to Lebanon/By: Ali Awad Assiri /Asharq
The ISIS Equation/By: Osman Mirghani/Asharq Alawsat/August 17/14
Enough lies, the Arab body politic created the ISIS cancer/By: Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/August 17/14
What is the greatest global threat to Muslims/By: Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 17/14
ISIS: The new Red Line/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/August 17/14
Lebanese Related News published on August 16 & 17/14
U.S. Department of State Renews Lebanon Travel Warning
Christians in Lebanon Take Precautionary Measures, Fear Expansion of ISIL
New Arab Tawhid Party Member Killed in Syria War
Syria orders Lebanese village to evacuate: mayor
Salam: Lebanon will not abandon kidnapped troops
Huge dead turtle found on Sidon's coast
Bou Saab issues passing certificates
Rifi commends ISF over arrest of 'Free Sunni' tweeter
Jumblatt calls for compromise presidential candidate
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah sees Islamic State as growing 'monster'
Suleiman Franjieh Urges Unity in Face of Terrorism: Army-People-Resistance Equation Has Imposed Itself
Journalist Diab's Murder Motivated by 'Personal Disputes,' Four Arrested
Report: Berri, Hariri Agree to Extend Parliament's Tenure
Family of Suspect Managing Free Sunni Brigade Twitter Account Close to Hizbullah
Report: Hariri to Attend Future March 14 Conference
France Seeking to Deliver Used Weapons to Lebanese Army
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 16 & 17/14
Khamenei slams US about Ferguson, Israel
Iran says 'little chance' of reaching nuclear deal with West by November
ISIS “massacres” 80 Yazidis in north Iraq: officials
Strikes on militants at Iraq dam after 'massacre'
Iraq Yazidis Fear for Thousands Kidnapped by Jihadists
Iraq army seeks help of Saddam-era officials to combat
Britain to keep up Iraq surveillance flights
EU backs Gaza mission to monitor Rafah crossing point on Egyptian border
Hamas threatens 'war of attrition'
Thousands of pro-Peace Israelis Stage Demo
Chances of Gaza settlement slim: Palestinian official
Hamas spokesman dismisses US bank case as “politically-motivated”
Israelis, Palestinians poised to resume Cairo talks
Activists protest to stop Israeli ship from docking in US, Canada
Qatar donates $1,000 for each destroyed Gazan home
Mayor: 34 killed in C. African Republic attacks
PKK-Turkey conflict 'coming to an end': Ocalan
Death toll in Egypt protests rises to 5 killed
Report: Germany spied on John Kerry, Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State Renews Lebanon Travel Warning
Naharnet/The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning advisory to Lebanon over ongoing safety and security concerns, following the latest travel warning issued in January. “U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks,” the Department of State said in a statement.
U.S. citizens were urged not to travel to Lebanon due to “potential death or injury.”“The frequency of terrorist bombing attacks throughout the country that have targeted specific individuals or venues have resulted in death and injuries to passersby.”The statement pointed out that “there is a real possibility of wrong place, wrong time harm to U.S. citizens.”The Department of State cited in its statement the bombings that occurred in Lebanon since June 2013. “Attacks now regularly involved suicide bombers that can occur without warning... Lebanese security forces had also reportedly disrupted other planned bombings,” the State Department added. It warned that “sudden outbreaks of violence and kidnappings can occur at any time,” adding that the ability of U.S. staff to reach travelers or provide emergency services is “severely limited” in several cases. The Department of State considered that U.S. government personnel in Beirut are at great risk, which requires them to live and work under strict security measures. The statement also said that extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including Hizbullah, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades and al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front. The Department of State urged U.S. nationals in Lebanon to monitor developments in Syria, which have a direct impact on stability in Lebanon. It called on U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon to enroll in the Department of Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact nationals in an emergency. The conflict in Syria has increasingly spilled over into Lebanon in the shape of deadly clashes and bombings.
Christians in Lebanon Take Precautionary Measures, Fear
Expansion of ISIL
Naharnet /Following the latest incidents in the northeastern border town of Arsal, fears that they could be the next target for the terrorist ISIL organization compelled the Christians in Lebanon to take precautionary protective measures, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on Saturday. The latest developments in Iraq where hundreds of thousands of Christians and Yazidis have been displaced, aggravated fears that the the Christian community in Lebanon would face the same fate. More than one million and 154,000 Syrian refugees currently live in Lebanon, and are a source of fear for Christians who are a minority compared to the number of Shiites and Sunnis. The above compelled the municipalities in different Lebanese regions to take precautionary measures and monitor the movement of refugees, in a bid to stop any similar incidents to those that erupted in Arsal. Arsal, whose residents have been broadly supportive of the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad, is currently playing host to 47,000 Syrian refugees. Many of them sought refuge there after Syrian government troops ousted rebels from the Qalamun region over the border. From August 2 to 6, Arsal was the scene of fierce clashes between army troops and jihadists who came over from Syria. The Lebanese Army, security forces and the municipal police upped security measures on Friday around houses of worship as the Christian community marked the Assumption of Virgin Mary Day. Christian areas, like other Lebanese regions host hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees most of whom live in popular residential areas that have been raided lately by security forces in search of wanted individuals. According to head of the Dekwaneh municipality Antoine Shakhtura, where the majority are Christians, “around 10,000 Syrian refugees living in the area have filled paper forms in the framework of organizing the Syrian presence,” a move initiated by the municipality and criticized later by media.
Furthermore, several christian villages on the north borders of the country tasked the youths with watching the entrances, major roads and even the valleys of the area which may constitute a point of attraction to terrorist. The main Christian parties, in particular the Free Patriotic Movement led by MP Michel Aoun, Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea, Kataeb Party led by former President Amin Gemayel and the Marada Movement led by MP Suleiman Franjieh, are following up closely on the matter. Unlike all other christian leaders, Geagea appeased the Lebanese in an interview on Friday saying that the the ISIL is a “big lie” that will disappear as fast as it grew."The ISIL is not an existential danger in Lebanon or the Middle East. What changed the equation in Iraq is the fragmented political situation that led to the creation of the ISIL. While in Lebanon, there is a state that exists and an army that contained the Arsal incidents with its capabilities.”
ISIS “massacres” 80 Yazidis in north Iraq: officials
Human rights minister says some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves
Baghdad, Reuters—Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “massacred” some 80 members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority in a village in the country’s north, a Yazidi lawmaker and two Kurdish officials said on Friday. “They arrived in vehicles and they started their killing this afternoon,” senior Kurdish official Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters. “We believe it’s because of their creed: convert or be killed.”A Yazidi lawmaker and another senior Kurdish official also said the killings had taken place and that the women of the village were kidnapped. A push by ISIS through northern Iraq to the border with the Kurdish region has alarmed the Baghdad government, drawn the first US air strikes since the end of American occupation in 2001 and sent tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians fleeing for their lives. Yazidi parliamentarian Mahama Khalil said he had spoken to villagers who had survived the attack. They said the killings took place during a one-hour period. The resident of a nearby village said an ISIS fighter from the same area gave him details of the bloodshed. “He told me that the Islamic State had spent five days trying to persuade villagers to convert to Islam and that a long lecture was delivered about the subject today,” said the villager. “He then said the men were gathered and shot dead. The women and girls were probably taken to Tal Afar because that is where the foreign fighters are.” That account could not be independently confirmed. ISIS militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq’s human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added.
Suleiman Franjieh Urges Unity in Face of Terrorism: Army-People-Resistance Equation Has Imposed Itself
Naharnet/Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh on Saturday called for unity in Lebanon “to confront terrorism,” reiterating that the army-people-resistance equation is necessary in the confrontation.
"Our political choices turned out to be correct again and now it is time to face dangers and terrorism. We all agree that this is terrorism,” Franjieh said in an interview on al-Manar television.
If we want to classify and underrate terrorism's existence, then this is a problem and those not convinced are harming their sect before harming others, he added. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned on Friday of a “real existential danger” threatening Lebanon and the region, calling for putting all differences aside to face the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea slammed in a televised interview on Wednesday ISIL as a “big lie” and assured that the extremist groups' atrocities in neighboring countries will not be repeated in Lebanon.Franjieh said that Geagea's comment on ISIL was a result of the “failure of his political choices.”
On the deadly clashes in the northeastern border town of Arsal, the northern leader considered that troops were “under pressure and running out of ammunition” during the battle. "Those calling for embracing the military institution are not arming it,” he said.
"Then what can we say about the resistance who has been standing against terrorism for two years in (the Syrian town of) al-Qalamun?” he asked.
"The army-people-resistance equation has imposed itself,” the Marada Movement head declared.
Franjieh also tackled the one billion dollar Saudi grant to the army, saying that is is dedicated to buy military equipment. "But we want to know who is buying and who is selling,” he said.
As for the first Saudi grant to the army, which is worth three billion dollars, he said it was aborted when “U.S. President Barack Obama went to Saudi Arabia.”
In a separate matter, the Christian leader announced his support for Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun in the presidential race “until (the latter) says he is nolonger a nominee.”
"As long as he is a nominee, I am with him,” he assured. Franjieh also favored holding parliamentary polls instead of extending the parliament's tenure, but remarked that if the choice was between vacuum and extension, he would support the second option.
And on former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's surprise return to Lebanon, he said: “He's welcome and we call on all expats to return.”He continued: “His absence led to fragmentation in al-Mustaqbal Movement and many were inclined to support takfiris. If he wants to direct them towards moderation then we support him.”
New Arab Tawhid Party Member
Killed in Syria War
Naharnet/Arab Tawhid Party, led by former minister Wiam Wahhab, mourned on Saturday the death of a Syrian member who died “while resisting to an armed attack” in the neighboring country's town of Dama. "With pride, we mourn our dear martyr Naji Abou Shakra who hails from Dama in Syria,” the party announced in a statement. We salute the soul of Abou Shakra and all his fellow martyrs who died defending our people in Dama and the nation, the statement said. The party also mourned other “martyrs who are Adham Faraj, Adham al-Jaramani and Nawraj al-Safadi who died defending their village,” without indicating which town they hailed from. In November 2013, the Arab Tawhid Party announced for the first time the death of members involved in the Syrian war, noting that they died in Aran village of Mount Hermon. Many Lebanese have taken part in the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria, particularly Hizbullah members as party chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly assured that he will not withdraw fighters before exterminating the takfiri threat.
Salam: Lebanon will not abandon kidnapped troops
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam reassured relatives of kidnapped soldiers and police officers Saturday that the state was exerting all efforts possible to secure the release of their loved ones."[I am] exhausting all means to secure the release of the captured soldiers and member of the Internal Security Forces,” Salam told relatives of the captured personnel during a meeting at the Grand Serail. "The state will not abandon them or forget about them." The case of the captured security personnel “will not sleep,” Tammam said, asking them remain patient and be aware of attempts to take advantage of their tragedy. The PM said the negotiations should remain secret to ensure their success. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and head of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim later joined the meeting. Ibrahim oversaw negotiations that led to the release of 11 Lebanese captured by Syrian rebels as well as Syrian nuns in Syria. Following five days of heavy fighting between the Army and militants from Syria in the border town of Arsal, the two agreed to a cease-fire that saw the withdrawal of the gunmen, the entry of aid of into Arsal and transport of wounded civilians out of the town.
The truce that ended the clashes also stipulated the release of captured soldiers and ISF members, but the militants failed to implement the agreement, using the hostages as a bargaining chip. Nineteen soldiers and 17 ISF members remain missing, and are believed to be held by the militants, who were from ISIS and Nusra Front. “What happened in Arsal almost placed the country at risk because it came at a difficult circumstance in the region and unstable domestic situation that the political forces have not yet resolved,” Salam said. “No one expected that ISIS gunmen and others would do what they did this quickly and in such brutality against Arsal, the Army and security forces.""Things would have ended differently if it wasn't for the political decision to face the Army in its confrontation.”
The Committee of Muslim Scholars, the party that mediated the cease-fire, has said negotiations are difficult because the hostages were taken by ISIS and Nusra Front, two groups with different demands.
Bou Saab issues passing certificates, defies teachers
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Education Minister Elias Bou Saab decided Saturday to issue passing certificates to thousands of students who took official exams, after efforts failed to convince teachers to back down on their boycott of correcting the tests. “[I decided] to give those who took the exams a certificate that would allow their entry into colleges,” Bou Saab told reporters at a news conference, saying such a move was his last resort to safeguard the school year. Lebanon has not had to resort to issuing passing certificates in lieu of grading the exams since the end of the Civil War in 1990. “The identification cards students used to enter exam rooms and take the tests will be used as an affidavit as proof of completion,” he said, adding that an additional official certificate would be issued at a later stage. “To the students, I say you have now passed your exams. Congratulations, but I had hoped the exams would be corrected ... [but] your teachers and the unions could not help you in correcting your exams.” Minutes before Bou Saab’s news conference, the Union Coordination Committee, which represents civil servants and teachers, said it remained adamant on boycotting until the salary scale draft law was approved by Parliament. Political parties have struggled to pass the draft law that would boost the salaries of civil servants and teachers, as they remain deadlocked over means to finance the bill estimated to cost the treasury some $1.2 billion a year.
Bou Saab said he was not willing to leave the future of 148,000 students hanging in the balance or remain hostage to the demands of their teachers. “I tried last Tuesday to have the teachers come out as victorious and postpone a decision to issue passing certificates approved by the minister and Cabinet ... but I was misunderstood because they became more stubborn,” he said. Earlier this week, Bou Saab postponed issuing the certificates at the request of the UCC in order to pave the way for more efforts to reach a solution to the standoff. His decision followed protests organized by the union to pressure Parliament to pass the law. Speaker Nabih Berri held talks Saturday morning with Future MP Bahia Hariri, a former education minister, on the issue of the salary scale. Bou Saab said the victory belonged to political differences. “The victory today was for political difference because the UCC is the biggest loser in the decision it took today,” he said. “I have clarified to the UCC that the problem with passing the salary scale was merely political, something that is disrupting the whole country and had nothing to do with the draft law itself.” “The teachers wanted to save face rather than safeguard the official school certificates.”With Parliament unable to convene due to boycotts by Christian lawmakers and some other political parties, Bou Saab said the legislative branch had no chance of convening soon, prompting him to make the “hard choice.”Immediately after Bou Saab’s remarks, UCC head Hanna Gharib, who has been at the forefront of the wage hike battle, said the minister was to blame, not teachers.
Jumblatt calls for compromise presidential candidate
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt Saturday called for the election of a "compromise candidate" for the presidential post and said the purpose behind ISIS was to destroy Islam and rid the region of its minority groups.While insisting that MP Henry Helou, a member of Jumblatt's parliamentary bloc, was his preferred candidate, Jumblatt stressed on the "need to search for a compromise candidate for the presidency.""We can, as Lebanese, and we have the power to elect a made-in-Lebanon candidate. I am not one of these people waiting for a signal from abroad," Jumblatt told Sky News Arabia.
"In this phase that the East is witnessing, no one cares about Lebanon."Touting Helou as a consensus figure, Jumblatt said the lawmaker was open to all Lebanese parties and sects. In his interview, Jumblatt also spoke about the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), saying the extremist group targeted not only Lebanon but also Iraq, Kurdistan and Syria. "It seems that the project to build an Islamic State in a destructive manner aims to destroy Islam, as a religion, and force the migration of minorities from the Middle East.”The head of the Progressive Socialist Party also commented on the recent clashes along Lebanon's border between the Lebanese Army and militants from Syria, saying the military was able to successfully confront the gunmen. "Lebanon’s security is more important than anything else ... Lebanon and the Arab world are facing an existential threat."
Authorities detained 13 during raids on refugee gatherings
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A mayor of a Metn town said in remarks published Saturday that authorities had detained 13 Syrians during a raid earlier this week on several buildings housing refugees.
"In Dikwaneh, there are over 1,000 Syrians living in three separate buildings, which were raided and [security forces] arrested 13 suspects," Antoine Shakhtoura told Ash-Sharq al-Awsat.
He said there were approximately 10,000 Syrians in the district. The mayor said the municipality had taken measures to control and monitor the presence of refugee, including imposing a curfew on them and monitoring Syrian refugee gathering locations. "We also patrol the streets at the night to arrest those who breach security,” he said, adding that this included common criminals and not necessarily terror suspects. "But 80 percent of Syrians in Dikwaneh are 23 years old at the most, and the majority are single with no families. Therefore, they are capable of carrying arms and fighting if there is a plan as such.”
Security sources told The Daily Star Tuesday that the detainees possessed photos of Syrian battlefields stored in their cellphones. The raids were made in light of the last week’s clashes in Arsal, which pitted the Lebanese Army against militants from Syria, some of whom resided in informal refugee camps in the border region. The fighting raised concerns about refugee gatherings scattered across the country, particularly in the Metn region, the source said
Rifi commends ISF over arrest of 'Free Sunni' tweeter
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi Saturday commended the Internal Security Forces for uncovering the identity of and arresting the man behind a controversial Twitter account, which he said promoted sectarian strife. “Once again, the Internal Security Forces and its Information Branch proved that they were up to the task of protecting Lebanon from strife and dangers after it investigated the case of the Free Sunni Brigades Twitter account and arrested the operator,” Rifi, former head of the ISF, said in a statement. “This accomplishment ... should be added to the honorable record of the ISF," which he said foiled several assassination attempts including the Samaha-Mamlouk plot. “This accomplishment prevented sectarian strife, which was being promoted by the account through statements that serve a blow to national unity and incite Muslim-Christian tensions.”On Thursday, the ISF Information Branch detained the operator of the Twitter account, a 19-year-old Lebanese national identified as Hussein al-Hussein. Security forces began tracking down the person behind the account when it was used to issue threats against Christians and Shiites in Lebanon. The account had also issued fiery statements against Hezbollah, claiming at times suicide car bombings in Shiite-dominant areas. Hussein's father said in remarks published Saturday his son was arrested when the family was stopped at an Army checkpoint in Riyaq. Speaking to Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Shaman al-Hussein said that he informed Hezbollah of his son's arrest given that the family was close to the party. He also said he was surprised to hear the reason behind his son's arrest. Hussein’s mother said her son most likely confessed under duress. "We are a poor family. My son doesn't even have his own laptop and he did not finish his high school."Sources in Hezbollah denied that Hussein was a member of the party, according to LBCI.
Strikes on militants at Iraq dam after 'massacre'
Diaa Hadid| Associated Press/IRBIL, Iraq: Airstrikes pounded the area around Iraq's largest dam Saturday in an effort to drive out militants who captured it earlier this month, as reports emerged of the massacre of some 80 members of the Yezidi religious minority by Islamic extremists. Residents living near the Mosul Dam toldthe Associated Press that the area was being targeted in airstrikes, but it was not immediately clear whether they were being carried out by Iraq's air force or the U.S., which last week began launching airstrikes aimed at halting the advance of ISIS across the country's north.
The extremist group seized the dam on the Tigris River on Aug. 7. Residents near the dam say the airstrikes killed militants, but that could not immediately be confirmed. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity out of fears for their safety. A Yezidi lawmaker and a Kurdish security official meanwhile said ISIS massacred scores of Yezidi men Friday afternoon after seizing the village of Kocho. Both said they based their information on the accounts of survivors and warned that the minority group remains in danger despite U.S. aid drops and airstrikes launched to protect them. ISIS fighters besieged the village for several days and gave its Yezidi residents a deadline to convert to Islam, Yazidi lawmaker Mahma Khalil said Saturday.
"When the residents refused to do this, the massacre took place," he said. Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman for Kurdish security forces, said Friday night that the militants took the women and children of Kocho to the nearby city of Tal Afar, which is controlled by the Islamic State group. Kocho, like other areas held by the extremist group, is not accessible to journalists. Tens of thousands of Yezidis fled when ISIS earlier this month captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. The Yezidis practice an ancient religion that the Sunni radicals consider heretical. The plight of the Yezidis, tens of thousands of whom were stranded on a desert mountaintop for days, encircled by the Islamic extremists, prompted the U.S. to launch aid lifts as well as airstrikes to help Kurdish fighters get them to safety.
Most of the Yezidis were eventually able to escape to Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region. Some 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting since ISIS' rapid advance across northern and western Iraq began in June. The decision to launch airstrikes marked the first direct U.S. military intervention in Iraq since the last troops withdrew in 2011, and reflected growing international concern about the extremist group, which has carved out a self-styled Islamic state in large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. On Saturday, Britain's Defense Ministry said it deployed a U.S.-made spy plane over northern Iraq to monitor the humanitarian crisis and movements of Islamic State militants. It said the converted Boeing KC-135 tanker, called a Rivet Joint, would monitor mobile phone calls and other communication.
Two British planes also landed Saturday in the Kurdish regional capital Irbil carrying humanitarian supplies. Khalil, the Yezidi lawmaker, said the U.S. must do more to protect those fleeing ISIS. "We have been calling on the U.S. administration and Iraqi government to intervene and help the innocent people, but it seems that nobody is listening," Khalil said.
Khamenei slams US about Ferguson, Israel
Ynetnews /Published: 08.16.14/Israel News
Iran's spiritual leader, known for his strong rhetoric against the US and Western countries, surprised many when he tweeted his interpretation of the shooting of an African American teenager in Missouri, tying case to Israel as well. Following the release of the name of the officer who fatally shot African American 18-year-old Michael Brown from Missouri, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei found the time between his tweets on his county's nuclear program and the Israel-Hamas conflict to address the problem of racism against African Americans in the United States.
In a series of tweets posted on Friday on his Twitter account, he wrote that the "brutal treatment of black people" isn't the only "anti-human rights act" carried out by the US government, adding that the world should "look at US's green light to Israel's crimes".In another tweet, it appeared that Khamenei has tremendous empathy for the struggle African Americans face in the US: "Racial discrimination's still a dilemma in US. Still people are unsecure for having dark skins. The way police treat them confirms it." "Look at how US govt treats black community!" he wrote in another tweet to his followers. "It's not about 50-100 years ago but it's about today!"
Police, Protesters Clash Again in Ferguson
Anger spurred by the death of a black teenager at
the hands of white police officer boiled over again on Friday when protesters
stormed into a Missouri convenience store — the same store that Michael Brown
was accused of robbing. On Friday, Police and about 200 protesters clashed again
in Ferguson, Missouri late Friday after another tense day in the St. Louis
suburb that included authorities identifying the officer who fatally shot an
unarmed black teenager and releasing documents alleging the young man had been
suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars from a convenience store in a
"strong-arm" robbery shortly before he was killed. Several hundred people
congregated on a busy Ferguson street Friday night as protests continued nearly
a week after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.
It was peaceful until about midnight, when a large crowd broke into the
convenience mart that Brown allegedly robbed the day he was killed.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said some in the crowd began throwing rocks and other objects at police. Police used tear gas to disburse the crowd but no arrests were made. One officer was hurt, but information on his injuries was not immediately available. No protesters were hurt.Police Chief Thomas Jackson earlier Friday said the officer who shot Brown did not know the teen was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting and stopped Brown and a companion "because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic."
Associated Press contributed to this report.
The ISIS Equation
Osman Mirghani/Asharq Alawsat
Saturday, 16 Aug, 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a
riddle wrapped in an enigma. Everything about it is mysterious, from its
emergence and organization to its leader, the so-called “Caliph” Abu Bakr
Al-Baghdadi, not to mention its strange, rapid expansion. According to figures
provided by the intelligence community, ISIS fighters number between 12,000 and
15,000, while the group has been able to overtake an area larger than Kuwait and
Lebanon combined within a period of just a few months. ISIS is in control of
vast territories, stretching between Syria and Iraq, including oil fields and a
strategically important dam. The militants roam this area freely, inciting
terror, levying taxes and expelling members of minority communities. ISIS poses
a threat to both Baghdad and Erbil and has turned the political equation inside
and outside the region on its head.
All of a sudden, ISIS is dominating the headlines, overshadowing all other events. The group’s gains in Iraq have diverted attention away from the Gaza War, taking pressure off Israel which has come under international criticism over the massacres and destruction wreaked in the Gaza Strip.
ISIS may have taken advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the events in Gaza to extend its presence in Iraq and Syria, but it also provided an unwitting service to Israel by diverting the world’s attention away from the massacre of Palestinian civilians to the massacre of Iraq’s Christian and Yazidi communities.
Ironically, ISIS turned the political equations upside down in Iraq as well. After being deemed responsible for all the tragedies that befell Iraq since its 2003 invasion, the US is facing increasing calls to intervene militarily in Iraq to stop the advance of ISIS. Even the outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki appealed to Washington to intervene. This is the same Maliki who had earlier opposed and refused to sign a security agreement with the US as part of the arrangement for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. After some hesitation, Washington accepted that it would have to carry out limited airstrikes, not in support of Maliki but because ISIS’s advance had started to pose a threat to other countries in the region, including exacerbating the already complicated situation in Syria. Washington and many, inside and outside Iraq, believe that Maliki has failed to manage a vital phase in Iraq’s history, widening the sectarian gap and inflaming the political and security situation.
Maliki today is paying the price for his mistakes. ISIS, which benefited from his mistakes, has contributed to his downfall. Its rapid expansion led to a consensus regarding the importance of replacing Maliki, while his successor prime minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi has found support from Maliki’s former allies, including Iran. Tehran announced its support of the constitutional process that has seen the nomination of a prime minister-designate other than Maliki and thus Tehran found itself, inexplicably, standing on the same side as Washington.
Another irony is that ISIS’s presence resulted in the US and Iran working to achieve the same military objectives, namely curbing the group’s expansion. There are reports suggesting that Iran sent some 500 Quds Force fighters to Baghdad in June in order to help stop the ISIS advance. While the US sent around 150 military experts this week to Kurdistan in order to “assess” the situation and assist in the training of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. This included training on the use of the new advanced military equipment provided by Washington in response to ISIS militants seizing sophisticated weapons and equipment left behind by retreating Iraqi forces.
Washington, as part of its military return to Iraq, is trying to address another mistake resulting from its previous operations in Iraq. ISIS originally emerged from the rubble of the Al-Qaeda in Iraq organization and the cells that grew following the death of Emir Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi in a US operation in 2006, as well as the deaths of other prominent Al-Qaeda leaders in an airstrike in 2010. The Islamic State of Iraq emerged from this chaotic situation, and later changed its name to include Syria, becoming the ISIS that we know today. ISIS has most recently sought to change its name again following the announcement of its Islamic State, with many Western media outlets now designating the group simply as the Islamic State.
What is even more surprising is that ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s ascent to power is the result of another US “mistake” that Washington is now trying to deal with. In a New York Times article entitled US Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel published on August 10, a Pentagon source said that US forces arrested Baghdadi in 2004 during an operation in Fallujah. Baghdadi, at the time, was not a big player in Iraq and the US simply registered his name and processed him; the Pentagon official said that there was no way that they could have guessed he would rise to such prominence. So not only did he slip through US fingers, but he also used the US, and particularly America’s presence in Iraq, to rise. “At every turn, Mr. Baghdadi’s rise has been shaped by the United States’ involvement in Iraq,” the New York Times article said.
One may also argue that Baghdadi benefited from the West’s confused handling of the Syrian crisis and its failure to unite the fragmented rebel factions. As a result he was able to take over vast swathes of land and attract even more fighters, expanding his operations even further.
It is difficult to gamble on ISIS’s internal collapse. So long as no one is willing to fight ISIS seriously, we may face an organization that confuses regional and international equations for many years to come.
Waving Goodbye to Lebanon
Ali Awad Assiri /Asharq Al-Awsat
Saturday, 16 Aug, 2014
When this article is published, I will be in the process of leaving my post as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon to take up the post of Saudi ambassador to another brotherly state, Pakistan. For me, this transitional period could be expressed by the famous lines of the Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran: “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
Yes, Gibran was absolutely right. As I prepare to leave this beloved country, I feel I am leaving my home, family and friends behind. I have felt the deep affection between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, and the ties that bind our two peoples together. Whenever a Saudi national is in Lebanon, or a Lebanese in Saudi Arabia, we feel at home, among our brothers and sisters.
I wanted to start this article with this sentimental introduction in order to assert that the relations that bind the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon together are first and foremost human ones, between its two peoples, that were established before political, economic or any other relations—these came only afterwards.
Saudi Arabia’s leadership is eager to maintain this special relationship; that is why the Kingdom has always endeavored to stand beside the Lebanese state and its institutions, as well as beside the brotherly people of Lebanon of all religions and sects. Saudi Arabia’s sole concern has been to support Lebanon’s national interests, its development, prosperity, progress and stability.
While the spotlight has always been on the Ta’if Agreement, which ended the Lebanese civil war, Saudi Arabia has taken a number of positive stances to support Lebanon in a variety of different fields, including politics, the economy, construction, education and the launching of different projects. All of this stemmed from the goodwill of the Kingdom and its people towards Lebanon and the people of Lebanon.
Over the past five years in Lebanon, I made links with many Muslim and Christian political leaders and forces. I listened to many ideas, opinions and views, and the summary of my experience is that all these parties are united in their love for Lebanon and in serving Lebanese interests within the framework of patriotism and national responsibility; the difference is on how to achieve these objectives.
I would like to put on record—and everybody I worked with over the years in Lebanon can confirm this—that I utilized the same discourse with all leaders and political forces, calling for dialogue, promoting national unity and stressing that national interest must supersede all other interests. This discourse was based on confirming that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the friend of all Lebanese, and welcomes any agreements that can be made between the various Lebanese parties, because they are aware of their own affairs.
Even the hardest and most difficult moments only prompted me to adhere even more to honesty; anybody who loves Lebanon will, by word and deed, seek to do what is best for the country, while those who are working to serve their own interests are already doomed, because they have failed to learn the lessons of history.
Following on from that, let me say that the events that are taking place in the region, especially the events in Syria, are directly affecting Lebanon. This is why it is so important for Lebanon’s leaders, officials and people to be aware of what is happening and seek to stop these regional fires from igniting the country. They must work to distance Lebanon from a situation whose repercussions it could not bear.
This is why it is important that Lebanon distances itself from the regional struggles and strengthens itself at home by electing a new president who enjoys the support of all political forces. This president will then be able to impose the authority of the state and help the country through this difficult phase with the least possible losses, bringing the Lebanese people together with a common vision.
Lebanon is not short of intellect or capabilities—this is a Lebanese trait. Nor is it short of statesman or leaders—the country is rich with them. Nor does Lebanon lack impetus and motivation—the Lebanese people are known for this. Rather, what Lebanon needs now is for the voices of reason to come out and be heard, allowing wisdom to prevail over internal and regional political calculations.
And out of my affection for Lebanon—and since these words stem from the heart I will allow myself to repeat the words that I have so often said—[we must] love and take care of Lebanon.
To the Lebanese people: transcend your differences, hold dialogue, be open to each other, reconcile, strengthen your national unity, safeguard your country, build and develop Lebanon, cultivate its land and raise its profile high. Secure a good, prosperous future for your children; give them a safe country that is prosperous and a glowing pearl in the region.
Do not leave your differences, and political, economic and security problems for the next generation to deal with. Do not let your children lose faith in their homeland and emigrate abroad; hold on to them and make them believe in Lebanon, their homeland, the Land of Cedars.
I am not saying all this out of a desire to lecture you or guide you, God forbid. This is a call that is burning inside a soul that simmers with love for Lebanon, and suffers at its pains. Lebanon is a country of culture, history and science which has given much to the region and continues to do so; all Arabs have a duty to rush to Lebanon’s aid.
In the five years that I spent in Lebanon with my family, we breathed the country’s air, walked under its skies and broke bread with its people. These things cannot be taken lightly, particularly as we were brought up on tradition and respect for values and customs. We are all the sons of this land and our concerns are the same; our hopes and aims are one.
Finally, let me express my thanks and appreciation to all the Lebanese politicians, military officials and spiritual leaders, and all state institutions and media outlets, and everybody in the public and private sectors. I thank all the people of Lebanon for whom I wish security, prosperity and happiness.
Lebanon, the land of benevolence, authenticity and chivalry—I came to you with a heart filled with love, and as I leave, these feelings have only grown. I pray to God to protect this dear country as I pray to God to protect my own, and pray that its banners continue to fly high.
Enough lies, the Arab body politic created the ISIS cancer
Saturday, 16 August 2014
Hisham Melhem/Al Arabia
Most people are averse to introspection, and rarely engage in self-criticism. Arabs are no different. However, the political culture that developed in the Arab World in the last 60 years, particularly in countries ruled by autocratic regimes, shifted blame from their catastrophic failures in governance to other external, sinister forces. For these countries, self-criticism has become next to impossible.
Over time, this legacy has created fertile terrain for conspiracy theories, delusions, self-deception, paranoia and xenophobia. If you read an Arab newspaper or many a website in the region, you will invariably encounter some of these symptoms. Admittedly, sometimes they can be entertaining, but in most cases they are downright ugly, reflecting deep pathologies of fear.
Conspiracy theories reign usually in undemocratic societies lacking transparent institutions, free and vibrant media and a political culture that does not shy away from dealing with issues that some may consider taboos. Clinging to conspiracy theories, particularly in times of challenge and uncertainty becomes attractive because it relieves the believers of any sense of responsibility for what is taking place in their midst, and apportion it to hidden and powerful forces beyond their control. Denial of reality and/or responsibility is the other side of conspiracy theories. In this manufactured world others, usually conniving, ill-intentioned and cunning are behind our travails and not us.
“The unimaginable brutality of this latest manifestation of Political Islam in the Arab world is too much to bear for many Muslim Arab”
Of course, conspiracy theories also exist in open and democratic societies, but they are usually confined to fringe groups. Just listen to the rants of the extreme right wing in the U.S. about government conspiracies against them including preparing internment camps to incarcerate them. Sometimes sizable numbers of people believe in conspiracy theories; just witness the number and shifting conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy over the years.
The shocking and unbridled savagery of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which morphed recently into the Islamic State, is a case in point. The unimaginable brutality of this latest manifestation of Political Islam in the Arab world is too much to bear for many Muslim Arabs. So they either deny the atrocities claiming that Muslims would never commit such heinous acts (even while the perpetrators of the crimes assert that their violence is to spread their puritanical twisted version of Islam) or resort to the easier option and pick one of the many conspiracy theories that are being peddled by Intelligence agencies, political groups, journalists, or self-appointed guardians of religious sects and ethnic groups. Conspiracy theories work well when they are peddled by individuals who claim to be defending a group of people such as an ethnicity or a religious sect, against impending danger since it is easier in this case to frame the threat to the group as existential.
ISIS is made everywhere
Even before its swift and bloody control of one third of Iraq, uprooting and killing Christians and Yazidis and occupying Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, ISIS was made everywhere except in Syria or Iraq or by Arabs generally. Depending on one’s sectarian background or political leanings, ISIS for many was made in America with a little help – as usual- from the Israelis; others, especially those who loath the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis would say with equal certainty that ISIS was made in Iran, with the conniving of the Syrian regime. But those who support the Iranian-led axis would assert un-equivocally that ISIS was made by the U.S. in collaboration with a Gulf state, take your pick: Saudi Arabia or Qatar or even Turkey.
In this twisted political environment, evidence or proof to buttress an argument are not necessary or are flimsy at best, and when the conspiracy is denied, the denial is considered a proof.
But since conspiracy theories usually are based on imagined causes and effects and by pointing to those who benefit from a development or an event, it becomes self-evident to some to claim that just because the Assad regime has diabolically benefitted from the war ISIS has waged against the Free Syrian Army and/or other Islamist opposition groups, then Assad is either behind ISIS or is conniving with it directly and operationally.
The recent fighting between ISIS and Assad’s forces in Eastern Syria shows that there is no validity to such claims. Those who claim Iran is behind ISIS, because Tehran wants to breakup Iraq or keep it in perpetual struggles, don’t like to entertain a simpler view which asserts that Iran’s national interests are better served by a stable and allied Iraq that would be dependent on Iran or floats in Iran’s political orbit, a reality that would allow Iran to extent its influence from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, trying to shift the blame for the disintegration of Iraqi defenses in the North from himself to the Kurds, had claimed that Erbil, the Kurdish capital “is a headquarters for ISIS, Baathists, al-Qaeda and terrorists.”
It is true that Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided arms and funds to Syrian opposition groups including an array of Islamist organizations in addition to Turkey. Particularly, the large sums of money given by wealthy individuals from the Gulf as aid which may have reached the extremists including al-Nusra Front and ISISearly on does not mean that the Gulf states have created ISIS, since these states have already designated ISIS as a terrorist organization. Moreover, they are preventing their nationals from joining the “Jihad” in Syria and Iraq, and are cooperating with the U.S. Treasury Department to prevent transfer of funds from private bank accounts in Western countries. Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department has designated three Kuwaiti ISIS financial supporters as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
Stamped: ISIS is made in America
With ISIS stunning ascendency in Iraq, which forced the Obama Administration to launch limited air strikes against ISIS military formations threatening the lives of thousands of Yezidis, Christians as well as the Kurdish city of Erbil, a new conspiracy theory about the origin and evolution of ISIS swept the region, alleging this time, that no less an authority than former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is asserting that ISIS was made in America. And for a while this conspiracy, dominated both the traditional and social media, particularly in Lebanon. Screenshots of fake quotes allegedly from Clinton’s memoire “Hard Choices” claiming the US was the brains behind the murderous ISIS were widely exchanged on twitter and on Facebook. Even by the low standards of conspiracy theories in the Middle East this one was particularly jarring.
Of fabricated quotes and a fake Emir
The fabricated quotes attributed to Clinton are so outlandish and surreal, that anybody with any political sense would not believe them even without checking the book. Clinton is alleged to have said that the U.S. has established ISIS in order to divide the Arab world but these plans were thwarted by the Egyptian military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Cairo, and that the U.S. and its European allies agreed that the Islamic State will be established on 2013/7/5” to be followed by our immediate recognition of this state… but everything collapsed “, after the Egyptian coup. The fake excerpts also claim that the Islamic State was supposed to help Washington in partitioning the Gulf region so that Washington would achieve total hegemony over the oil wells and the maritime lines of the region. This outrageous nonsense was published in whole or in part on websites and some publication, including the reputable Lebanese daily Annahar . A column by one of its contributors contained these lies as well as allegations that Edward Snowden the former NSA analyst has revealed that the Israeli Mossad intelligence service along with the CIA have established ISIS. He also quoted a web site allegedly claiming that an Iranian intelligence service has revealed the true identity of the “Emir” of the “Caliphate” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Shimon Eilot, a Mossad agent. The only thing secretary Clinton has said about ISIS recently was that the U.S. “failure” to help Syrian rebels early on, has contributed to the rise of ISIS.
These outlandish lies prompted Lebanon’s foreign minister Jibran Basil, a man not known for being deliberative; to summon the American Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale to inquire about Clinton’s alleged claims. (Had he consulted his embassy in Washington to check the veracity of the claims, he would have saved himself and his country a profound embarrassment). The situation forced the U.S. embassy in Beirut to post a strong denial on its Facebook page: “Any suggestion that the United States ever considered recognizing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as anything other than a terrorist organization, or had any role in its creation, is patently false. Allegations circulating in Lebanon to the contrary are a fabrication.”
A complex history
Those who have a more charitable view of the prevalence of conspiracy theories in the ME would point out that since the Second World War, the U.S. and its allies did engage in clandestine activities and conspiracies, including fomenting coups, influencing elections and collaborating with unsavory characters in the name of combating communism and radicalism, and that the invasion of Iraq was based on baseless allegations regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction and lies. That is all true, but that does not excuse the wide tendency of many Arabs, including journalists and government officials to believe in outlandish conspiracies without bothering to present evidence. The lies and fabrications spread by many in the Egyptian media before and after the coup of 2013 about the policies and views of U.S. officials towards Egypt, such as accusing the former U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson of urging the Muslim Brotherhood to use violence, or greeting Secretary Clinton on one of her visits to Cairo as “The supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood “are a national embarrassment. There is no escaping the fact that most of what is considered political discourse in many parts of the Arab world reflects the paucity of intellectual life in those societies.
Ever since the 1967 Arab defeat in the war with Israel, Arab politics have been influenced and mostly shaped by various stripes of Islamists, including the radical and violent groups that constitute the antecedent of al-Qaeda and ISIS. Their emergence was in the making for decades. Today most of the politics in various Arab states from the countries of the Maghreb; Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, through Egypt and on to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen is highly influenced by Islamists who occupy a shrinking spectrum. Most of the debates are essentially “all in the family” of Islamists kinds of debates. The rise of the Islamists; such as al-Nahda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the various Salafists, the Jama’a Islamia, Hezbollah, Hamas and later al-Qaeda and ISIS has been facilitated by the depredations of the “secular” Arab regimes, the military strongmen and the one party rule, particularly the depravities of the Baath Party in both Syria and Iraq.
Over decades, the societies of Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Libya and later on Tunisia have been thoroughly wrecked by the brutality and corruption of these regimes. Arab societies gradually became politically and intellectually arid. Progressives, leftists, liberals and enlightened nationalists who dominated political life in many of these societies for decades were hunted, intimidated and deprived of forming any kind of independent political organization. Civil society was gutted, particularly in Syria and Iraq, where the ruling elites controlled every aspect of social and economic life, such as unions, social associations, universities and other organizations and associations in a way that the colonial order before independence could not dream of. In the meantime, the Islamists, many of whom were also subjected to the same treatment; either went underground or managed through charities and the Mosque to maintain some political viability and a modicum of organization.
The Islamist tide
In the 1970’s and 80’s, the Islamists began to assert themselves politically, claiming that both the State and the other secularists have failed after the 1967 defeat were unable to achieve economic growth. Some began to resort to violence in Egypt and Syria, and the Islamists that the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat cultivated when he took power in 1970 to counter the Nasserites and the leftists, ended up assassinating him. Later on, more virulent Egyptian Islamists waged a terror campaign against Western tourists and tried to kill President Hosni Mubarak. In the meantime the Islamization of the war against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan where Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan with the active collaboration of the United States, changed the political dynamics not only in South Asia but also in the Middle East. An ill wind was blowing ushering the coming of a more conservative, austere, brand of the religion which few dared to call the intolerant tide of political Islamism.
By the time the United States invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s wars and domestic depravities have already broken Iraq and totally alienated the Shiites and the Kurds. By the time the Syrian uprising began, the sectarianism of the Assad dynasty, the looting of the state and its resources by a small political and economic elite that included Sunnis and Christians pushed Syria to the point of implosion. The U.S. invasion of Iraq let loose unforeseen forces and dangerous sectarian tendencies and ethnic divisions that exposed to what extent the Iraqi State has been hollowed. And the Syrian uprising, which the regime diabolically succeeded in militarizing and deepening its sectarian- ethnic fissures, has degenerated into the ugliest and costliest civil war since the beginning of the season of Arab uprisings.
ISIS, a cult from hell
It is no longer very useful to talk about Syria and Iraq as unitary states because many people involved in the various struggles there don’t seem to share a national narrative. It is instructive to observe that those who are ruling Damascus and Baghdad don’t seem to be extremely moved to do something about a force that eliminated their national boundaries and in the process occupied one third of each country, and is bent on creating a puritanical Caliphate stretching from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean. ISIS is exploiting the rage and alienation of the minority Arab Sunni Iraqis by the increasing sectarian policies pursued by Nouri Maliki for 8 years, just as it is exploiting the anger of the Majority Sunni Arabs in Syria who have been marginalized by the Assad dynasty for more than 40 years.
For the time being, ISIS will benefit from this deep Sunni disaffection, and time will tell when its growing nihilism and barbaric ritual killings will drive people to rebel against it. ISIS is al-Qaeda on steroids. ISIS’s standards of depravity (mass executions, beheading, and crucifixions puts it way beyond the Taliban in Afghanistan). ISIS is the first modern terrorist organization that acts as a cult, and led by a leader who acts like a leader of a secrete death cult society, a modern day version of the 12th century Hassan-i Sabbah, the Ismaili Persian leader of a small group of zealots sometimes referred to as Hashashin, or "Assassins" who waged a campaign of violence and terror from his mountain redoubt in Northern Persia against the Seljuk Turks. The difference now is that ISIS is not ensconced in a mountain redoubt, but has established a primitive form of governance, with bureaucracies, tax collection and religious courts infamous for meting out horrific death sentences.
ISIS maybe the reject of al-Qaeda, but like al-Qaeda, it is the illegitimate child of modern political Islam that grew and expanded in what the Arabs refer to as البيئة الحاضنة, an "embracing environment." The ugly truth is that the ISIS cancer was produced by a very ill and weak Arab body politic.
ISIS: The new Red Line
Saturday, 16 August 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
We are witnessing a unique situation, in which the positions of the countries, parties and tribes are revolving around the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has become the reason behind the gathering of opponents. Most of the Iraqi forces, whether Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish, agreed to reconcile because they are all afraid of ISIS. It has also accelerated the departure of Nouri al-Maliki from the premiership. Most of the Sunni opposition went back to Baghdad to cooperate. The government of Kurdistan reconciled with the government in Baghdad, giving it back two oil fields and ending the estrangement. Even President Barack Obama reneged on his promise to abstain from fighting in Iraq since the withdrawal of his troops. Likewise, Iran has abandoned al-Maliki and Saudi Arabia accepted his substitute Haider al-Abadi. What an extraordinary story! Everyone should understand it well. The moral of this story is that there is no place for ISIS and that it is impossible to use it to manipulate the region.
Leaders in the Sunni Anbar province in Iraq have had a heated dispute over ISIS. Some tribes declared that, with the departure of Nuri al-Maliki, they are now ready to cooperate with the government to fight against the terrorist organization that threatens all. Other tribes announced yesterday that they refuse to fight against the organization, threatening to use it until their demands are met.
A long and perilous path
The path of getting rid of this organization is long and perilous. While its opponents agreed to put aside their disagreements in order to fight together against it, ISIS showed no less intelligence and the ability to get into the political scene: it wants to exploit the disagreements between the Sunni tribes against them in Anbar and Nineveh. There are some governments in the region that believe in being more intelligent; therefore they continue to finance ISIS to threaten not only Iraq, but Saudi Arabia as well! They had used the rebelling tribes to cover for the deployment of the organization in the province, to enable it of recruiting the largest number of angry people, and use it for different purposes later on. “ISIS, the common enemy, has now become a red line, regardless of the differences and goals of each party in this regional game” Now, the terrorist organization has become a serious force in different parts of Iraq. It owns now oil and wheat after seizing the governmental silos. It also has advanced and huge weaponry after seizing Iraqi army stores. It is now able to control large areas thanks to the increase in its numbers and the money it seized. The Al-Masdar website has said that ISIS used blackmail to impose taxes: “According to data from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations, ISIS collected taxes from businessmen in Mosul before even taking hold of the city. The value of those taxes reached 8 million dollars per month”. ISIS has now a large capital due to selling petroleum and looting public funds. ISIS, the common enemy, has now become a red line, regardless of the differences and goals of each party in this regional game.
What is the greatest global threat to Muslims?
Saturday, 16 August 2014
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiia
Who is responsible for the greatest numbers of deaths against Muslims today? Who commits the worst atrocities against Muslims? It is not the West that claims the highest headcount nor is it Israel. The sad truth is that today Muslims kill the most Muslims around the world. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010, more than 100,000 have been killed. Many of these deaths were in Syria, where thousands more languish in prisons expecting similarly grim fates. And with the rise of ISIS and the threat that it poses to regional stability, many more are expected to die. Most of the fighters are killing “infidels”. Most of the those dying are allegedly “infidels”. Almost always, that means that they are the wrong kind of Muslim to the other Muslim holding the gun. Whether they are fighters or civilians, the sin of those dying is in many cases simply being Sunni rather than Shiite, or Shiite rather than Sunni. And woe betides any smaller minorities caught in the middle.
In Pakistan, Shiite, Ahmadis and minorities are being wiped out in a systematic and calculated way. In the wastelands between ISIS and what remains of Iraq and Syria, the same is true: Sunnis and Shiites kill each other and ISIS occasionally targets other Sunnis accused of apostasy. Meanwhile, minority groups do their best to flee as far away as possible. When they do not, they often get caught in between, with little to protect them.
Missing a layer of truth
These events are portrayed as significant human tragedies in the West. And they are. But the reporting usually misses an important layer of truth. Because it is Muslims killing Muslims, often Arabs killing Arabs, it is not described as what they truly are: ethnic, social, sectarian and/or tribal cleansing. “The sad truth is that today Muslims kill the most Muslims around the world”
A conflict such as that in Israel-Palestine can be given this dimension in the Western news narrative quite easily. And the cause of the Palestinians can be picked up by Western and Middle Eastern humanitarian and activist groups very easily because of it – and rightly so. But what is happening in Syria, Iraq, and in many other hot-spots around the Muslim world is no less serious. In fact, it skirts on the edges of genocide much more often.
Yet how often do we hear cries of protest and indignation when the communities of Ahmadis in Pakistan, or when most Sufi groups in Iraq are being effectively uprooted from the homelands. Most of those displaced will never return, and those communities will never recover. These may not have suffered for as long as the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli state, but their communities have often been all but destroyed – by “fellow” Muslims. We like to proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace. And for most of us it is. But we have to acknowledge that there are those Muslims for whom Islam is not a religion of peace. Whether extremist Salafist Jihadists, or Shiite Revolutionary Guards, there are those in our religion that speak of Islam with a gun in their hands. And as long as they have the power to do so, they will claim to speak on our behalf as well. We need to take responsibility for these facts. And we need to recognize that while we allow young boys and men who should know better kill Muslims on behalf of Islam all around the Muslim world, we are failing to uphold the Islam of peace. When we let our religion be hijacked by the violent minority, we are failing in our religious duty.
There is only one uprising we need. We need the silent majority who does not care whether their neighbors are Sunni, or Shiite, or Sufi, or Ahmadi, or Ismaili, or Christian or Jewish, or whatever else, but who care that they are good people, we need this majority to stop being silent. We need to raise our voices against those who would steal our religion from us, destroy our homes and uproot us from our villages. And we need to teach them that Islam is the religion of peace. They are the “infidels”, and we need to at the very least fight the jihad of words to bring peace to them, and to our region.