August 19/14

Bible Quotation for today/Punishment For those who make others stumble

Luke 17/01-03: "Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen!  It would be better for him if a large millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.  So watch what you do!


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 18 & 19/14

Nasrallah’s Communication Confusion/By: Tariq Alhomayed /AlArabiya/August 18 & 19/14

Pity Lebanon’s reckless Christians/By: Michael Young| The Daily Star/August 19/14
Sherman's 300,000 and the Caliphate's Three Million/By:  David P. Goldman/Asia Times/August 19/14

Mosul From a 19th Century Perspective/By Kate Seelye/August 19/14

Arabs helpless as the neighborhood implodes/By: Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya/August 19/14

Heaven or Hell? The Iranian nuclear team’s road ahead/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/August 19/14

Double standards: Why fight ISIS in Iraq, not in Syria/By: Mohamed Chebarro/Al Arabiya/August 19/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 18 & 19/14

Militants issue their demands over captive soldiers

UCC divided over official exams correction

Siniora: Parliament may be extended for limited time
Kabbara: Tripoli supports the state and its institutions
Rai: Presidential void is a mark of shame

Jumblatt issues warning for Druze sect in Syria

Jumblat Meets Franjieh in Bnashii: We Have No Solutions on Presidential Impasse
Lebanese banks’ Syrian profits take a big hit
Rain and fog hit mountains amid summer heat wave
Kataeb: Ongoing Presidential Vacuum Will Eliminate the State

Operator of Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigades Account Referred to Military Court

Bassil: We Reject Iraqi Refugees, ISIL will be Defeated

LebanonBerri Says 87% of Muslim MPs Attending Presidential Election Sessions
LebanonFadel Shaker Back in Sight


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 18 & 19/14

Pope 'Available' to Go to Iraq 'if Necessary'

ISIS Forcefully Circumcised Assyrian Christian Men in Mosul, Sold 700 Yazidi Women

Assyrians in Windsor Rally to Raise Awareness About Iraqi Assyrians

Peshmerga retake Mosul Dam: spokesmen

US, UK step up involvement to help Iraqi Kurds
US carries out 15 airstrikes near Iraq dam

What is the difference between Abadi and Maliki?

Yazidi Fleeing Iraq Jihadists Has Quintuplets

U.S. Adds IS Spokesman, al-Nusra Front Rebel to Terrorist List

Netanyahu-Sisi-Abbas lineup tells Hamas: Accept an extra month’s truce - or Ramallah will

Report: Palestinians to announce cease-fire with Israel at midnight
Palestinian divisions emerge in truce talks
Israel: Hamas West Bank coup attempt thwarted
No Gaza talks breakthrough as cease-fire nears end
Israel will hit back hard if more Gaza rocket attacks: PM
IDF destroys homes of teens' killers in Hebron
Yemen: Fight against Al-Qaeda continues as Houthis call for protests

Gulf committee readies report on rift with Qatar

ISIS Forcefully Circumcised Assyrian Christian Men in Mosul, Sold 700 Yazidi Women

Posted 2014-08-18/(AINA) -- The Tunisia Daily is reporting that the Islamic State (ISIS) forcefully circumcised Assyrian men in Mosul, without anesthesia. The report does not specify the number of men that were affected but does state that it was an organized mass circumcision. ISIS has ordered the circumcision of all Christian children and adults who remain in Mosul.
Very few Assyrian Christians stayed in Mosul after ISIS gave them a deadline to convert, pay jizya, leave or die (AINA 2014-07-20). The report also states that ISIS sold 700 Yazidi women for $150 each in a public slave auction in Mosul. See Timeline of ISIS in North Iraq

Jumblat Meets Franjieh in Bnashii: We Have No Solutions on Presidential Impasse

Naharnet /Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat met with Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh in Bnashii on Monday, announcing that he has no solutions to end the presidential vacuum.
"I said I will hold talks (with political leaders) and I will carry on with these talks but it is not me who has the solution,” Jumblat said after meeting with Franjieh. "And I have chosen this place (Franjieh's house in Bnashii) after meeting with (Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel) Aoun to renew relations despite some differences in viewpoints,” he added.
He continued: “I visited this house years ago and we have a historical relation with the Franjieh family and with Suleiman (Franjieh). Despite some political differences, and I don't call them disputes, we have common grounds which are about preserving Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and stability.”The Marada Movement leader, meanwhile, described the meeting as “friendly.”"As Jumblat said, we agree on some things and we disagree on others. But we believe in dialogue and we have the same concerns over Lebanon,” he said. "Everything Jumblat is doing stems from his concern over Lebanon and our existence as minorities. This is a common concern,” he went on to say.
He reiterated that both leaders “do not have a solution,” adding that dialogue and communication “are necessary regardless of how much conditions deteriorate.” "We need to continue talking with one another,” Franjieh stressed. Jumblat's Monday visit to Bnashii comes as part of his efforts to convince the rival leaders to elect a compromise president.
Jumblat has so far met with Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Aoun.He is also expected to visit Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.
Al-Akhbar newspaper said that Monday's meeting was preceded by talks between Jumblat's son Taymour and Tony Franjieh, the son of the Marada chief, at the house of a member of the displaced fund, in Ehden. The meeting was attended by several current and former cabinet ministers and lawmakers, and Marada and PSP officials, al-Akhbar added.
Jumblat has held onto the candidacy of Aley MP Henri Helou, a member of his parliamentary bloc, saying Lebanon needed a centrist compromise candidate for the presidency.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 25 when Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid a failure by parliament to elect a successor over differences on a compromise candidate.
The March 14 alliance has backed the candidacy of Geagea. But the Hizbullah-led March 8 camp has not officially announced its support for Aoun, who has claimed that he would run for the presidency only if there was consensus on him.

Bassil: We Reject Iraqi Refugees, ISIL will be Defeated

Naharnet /Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said on Monday that Lebanon rejects to welcome Iraqi refugees, asking them to remain in their land.
“Calls to welcome displaced Iraqis are rejected. We urge them to stay in their land,” Bassil said during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Hussein al-Shahristani in Baghdad.
But we welcome Iraqi tourists in Lebanon, he said. Bassil said the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now named Islamic State, will be defeated in Iraq, but warned that its extremist thoughts could remain. “What will happen after ISIL? Is it going to be fed intellectually and financially?” he asked. Bassil also warned that the Christians in the Middle East were under threat.
Islamic State (IS) jihadists launched in early June a major offensive in northern Iraq, sweeping Iraqi security forces aside.
The militants have declared a "caliphate" straddling vast areas of Iraq and Syria. Human rights groups and residents say IS fighters have been demanding that religious minorities in the Mosul region either convert or leave, unleashing violent reprisals on any who refuse. Members of minority groups including the Yazidis, Christians, Shabak and Turkmen, remain under threat of kidnapping or death at the hands of the jihadists. If things remain the way they are, then the Christians will be under threat not just in Mosul but in the entire Orient,” Bassil said.

Netanyahu-Sisi-Abbas lineup tells Hamas: Accept an extra month’s truce - or Ramallah will

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 17, 2014/The Egyptian and Palestinian Authority delegations slapped down an ultimatum for Hamas when negotiations for a durable Gaza truce resumed in Cairo, Sunday, Aug. 17. debkafile’s intelligence report that Hamas was given the option of declaring a one-month extension of the five-day ceasefire which runs out Monday midnight, or else the announcement would be made from Ramallah Monday in the name of the Palestinian national unity government. This was the first joint action taken by the triple bloc formed by Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for pushing the Islamist Hamas-Islamic Jihad duo up against a wall.
Their lineup, backed from the wings by Saudi King Abdullah and Russian President Vladimir Putin, set itself five objectives:
1. To confront Hamas with a solid political-security front which is beyond its power to break.
2. To corner Hamas into accepting the Egyptian ceasefire proposion unchanged and unconditionally.
3. To compel Hamas to disarm, i.e. dismantle its rockets and tunnels, so pulling the teeth of its military wing, Ezz e-Din al-Qassam.
4. To distance the Obama administration from the triple bloc’s dealings with the Palestinian Islamist factions.
5. To keep the Europeans from interfering in those dealings.
The foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy meeting in Brussels offered Friday to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings and work to prevent illegal arms flows.
Saturday, Cairo, Jerusalem and Ramallah politely informed Brussels that they preferred to handle this situation on their own and no European diplomatic or security assistance was needed.
The quiet shaping of this three-way alliance for resolving the Gaza conflict, by means of a sustainable cessation of hostilities, kept most of Israel’s and world media guessing, says debkafile. In the interests of tight secrecy, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon chose to keep the rest of the cabinet in the dark as well, incurring loud complaints from ministers.
The proposition the three partners have formulated puts Hamas and Jihad on the spot. The Arab world has abandoned them and their only source of funding is Tehran. So their choices are grim: Face an escalated war that Israel will fight until the bitter end, or swallow hard and accept the only proposition on the table which is tantamount to disarmament and capitulation.
Their isolation is complete. The Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have managed to cut Hamas away from any backing in Washington, Qatar and Turkey as well as blocking its path to Moscow.
To encourage Hamas to choose the right path, the Israel Air Force is cruising around-the-clock over Hamas bases and command centers in the Gaza Strip, ready at a signal to switch to the offensive if the Palestinian fundamentalists make the wrong choice in Cairo.
Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared to be sitting on the sidelines of the Gaza conflict during Israel’s month-long military operation, finally threw in his lot with Sisi and Netanyahu when it came to the crunch.
The tone of address adopted by Netanyahu at Sunday’s cabinet session was a pointer to the tough new mood prevailing in Jerusalem: “Hamas is mistaken if it thinks it can come out of a military defeat with a diplomatic victory... or that we lack the resolve and endurance for a drawn-out conflict,” he said..

Militants issue their demands over captive soldiers
The Daily Star/18 August/14
BEIRUT: The government Monday received a list of demands from the militants who have held members of the Army and Internal Security Forces captive since the eruption of Arsal clashes.
“The government has officially received a list of demands from the captors of the military [and security] personnel, as well as a video recording of them,” Sheikh Adnan Amama, a member of the Muslim Scholars Committee told The Daily Star. Eleven members of the Army were being held captive by ISIS said Amama, adding that one corpse was also being held by the militants.
According to the "Muslim Scholars" member, the Nusra Front had seventeen captives from the ISF and three captives from the Army, but chose to release two of the seventeen ISF members Sunday.
“They did not want to release two Army members because then they would only have had one Army soldier left throughout the negotiations,” he said.
“The coming days will witness the release of more security members,” Amama added. The Committee of Muslim Scholars mediated the cease-fire that ended five days of clashes in Arsal earlier this month and was overseeing talks to release the captured soldiers and officers.
At least 38 members of Lebanon's security forces were taken captive by militants who overran Arsal. Several have been released since the beginning of negotiations. Arsal resident, Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, known by his nom de guerre Abu Taqiyeh, confirmed Sunday that all the soldiers and policemen were alive. Hujeiri said that the captives from the Army and the ISF were distributed amongst militant groups from the Nusra Front as well as Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.
Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Monday that ongoing negotiations over the release of kidnapped Army and ISF members is “very sensitive.”Derbas said that the Lebanese government and the UN were continuing the treatment of wounded Syrian refugees in Arsal - a request issued by the militants as a condition for the release of abducted security members. The two members of the ISF were freed Sunday as a sign of “goodwill” from the militants, as the Army arrested 12 Syrians who were allegedly involved in the battles.
The released policemen, Medyan Hasan and Kamal Misilmani, were received by the Army Intelligence in the Bekaa Valley, which in turn transferred them to the police station in Arsal.

Nasrallah’s Communication Confusion
By: Tariq Alhomayed /AlArabiya
Monday, 18 Aug, 2014 /In a long interview, published recently in two parts, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made striking efforts to polish his image. He talked about everything to an interviewer from the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar—whose affiliation to Hezbollah is such that the paper once dedicated a 1,600-word story just to the way he made his speeches or waved his finger.
Speaking at length, Nasrallah tried to justify his own, his party’s, and Iranian policies in the region. He tried to polish the image of the Assad regime and went as far as saying that the ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had been taught in Gulf schools for many years.
Despite all that, this is not the main issue. The main issue is Nasrallah’s talk about the war in Gaza. During the interview, Nasrallah was asked: “Did you receive a request from the Palestinians for direct intervention?” His answer was as follows: “Brother Moussa [Abu-Marzouk] spoke about this issue. No other factions spoke to us, and I think everyone understands!”
Then the interviewer asks Nasrallah: “Do his [Abu-Marzouk's] words represent the real position of Hamas?” Nasrallah replies: “If this is a serious request it would be discussed within closed circles, not in the media.” Nasrallah then added: “The communication lines are still open and the contacts are ongoing. He, or any Hamas leader, could have asked to discuss the matter [with us], but to discuss it in the media raises questions in my opinion, and I did not find that appropriate.”
Nasrallah has never stopped lecturing people in the media. How can we forget his address to the Egyptian army a few years ago via the media, calling on them to topple the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Today, we see him resort to the famous Arab proverb, “Advice in public is but scorn.”
Nasrallah considers Hamas’s request via the media for Hezbollah to intervene in the Gaza war as embarrassing, that it is not appropriate to discuss such a matter on the media airwaves in this manner. Who is Nasrallah trying to fool? Should he not realize more than anyone else that airing your message via the media—like he always does—is pointless, instead of asking Hamas to avoid doing the same?
Nasrallah’s response to the possibility of intervention in Gaza therefore clearly exposes the extent of his and his party’s predicament, embroiled as they are in a sectarian war, where they fight Syrians in defense of the criminal of Damascus. Now he tries, as he always did, to justify his involvement in Syria through the media, while at the same time branding Hamas’s request for intervention through the very same channels as “inappropriate.”
Could there there be a worse predicament than this—not just for Nasrallah, but for Iran too? Iran and Hezbollah are fighting to defend Assad, who not only kills Syrians, but also bombards Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp, at a time when people are weeping over the events in Gaza. So, what predicament could possibly be worse than this for Nasrallah, and for those who stand behind him?

Pity Lebanon’s reckless Christians
Michael Young| The Daily Star/18 August/14
Michel Aoun might want to learn a lesson from Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s ousted prime minister. It is that the longer you cling to a tenuous position, the more apt are others to decide for you.
In fact, Lebanon’s Christians in general should be careful. It has been months since a president was scheduled to be elected, yet Aoun’s ambitions and Christian rivalries have helped make agreement over a candidate impossible. Worse, the Christian parties have pursued the thoroughly idiotic tactic of boycotting legislative sessions in Parliament until a president is elected, as if blocking passage of needed legislation can in any way help their cause.
Aoun, of course, deserves some blame. Like Maliki, he obstinately seeks power, the negative repercussions for the state be damned. And Hezbollah, as their Iranian patrons did in Baghdad with Maliki, seeks only to avoid a direct confrontation with the general, preferring to let others undermine his position. That Hezbollah wants Aoun as president is nonsense and hides that the party wants to allow the situation to fester so Aoun can fall off the branch on his own.
The irony is that Aoun rarely misses an opportunity to lament Christian misfortunes in the Middle East, and to focus on those groups that pose a threat to the Christian presence. Yet his unwillingness to help fill the presidential vacuum, and the damage this has caused for the state and for the Christians’ position in Lebanon, has been ignored by him and his partisans.
But in the end Aoun is not the main factor today. His fault is to act as a convenient foil, a dupe, for Hezbollah. The party is caught up in an unwinnable conflict in Syria, sees Iran struggling in Iraq, and so its aim is to delay any decisive decisions in Lebanon before it can be sure of manipulating the outcomes in its favor. That’s why it it appears to back an extension of Parliament’s mandate, despite public statements suggesting the contrary, and it’s why it has done nothing to push Aoun to be more flexible over the presidency.
But if the void in the presidency leads to a further breakdown in the state that harms Lebanon’s stability and risks exacerbating Sunni-Shiite tensions, there is a very real possibility that the Maronites will find themselves circumvented. The Muslim leaderships could very easily, and quite understandably, decide to back a compromise candidate who does not have much communal credibility, but who at least satisfies their needs.
We’re not there yet, to an extent because Saad Hariri and Hezbollah, and above them Saudi Arabia and Iran, have not reached a compromise. However, there is nothing permanent in this situation, especially when Tehran and Riyadh appear to have a shared interest, both in Lebanon and elsewhere, in neutralizing the Sunni drift toward greater extremism.
At a time when Christians in the Arab world are in serious danger, with communities in Syria and Iraq not likely to return home, Lebanon’s Christians still have the luxury of engaging in petty disputes. Aoun may really care whether he becomes president, but most people do not. What they worry about is the dysfunctional state, with infrastructure disintegrating and the economy at serious risk of bankruptcy.
There was a time when Christians were associated with the state and its amelioration. Lebanon’s great administrative, infrastructural and educational reforms were driven by the likes of Presidents Fouad Chehab and Camille Chamoun. When the Civil War began in 1975, Christians portrayed themselves, rightly or wrongly, as defenders of the state in confronting the Palestinian armed presence. And during the postwar years of Syrian hegemony, it was the Christians – the Maronite patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir, most prominently – who were especially active in opposing the protectorate that Syria had imposed on Lebanon and that undermined its sovereignty.
To a great extent that legacy appears to be dissipating. Many Christians are simply opting to leave Lebanon or to send their children abroad. In their internecine struggles for comparative advantage, Christian politicians have facilitated deadlock in state institutions, even if they are by no means the only ones. The Lebanese system has become rotten to the core, and the great problem is that the young simply no longer have any incentive to stay and contribute to the country’s development.
This is as great a menace to the Christians’ future in the Middle East as is the barbarity of the extreme jihadist groups or the Arab regimes who will slaughter their populations to remain in power. What is most worrisome is that what we are witnessing today is not likely to be transitory; it is permanent. As an example, many of the Christians who left during the years of Lebanon’s Civil War have not returned, and will not return. So amid the sterile disputes between Christians over the presidency, there is a more profound and implicit message: The divided Christians are incapable of collectively considering, and most importantly preparing for, the broader regional transformations menacing their existence in the Arab world.
On the contrary, their small-mindedness is only guaranteeing that as regional crises grow, Christian marginalization will be assured. Already in Lebanon, between Aoun’s obstruction over the presidency and Samir Geagea’s support last year for the suicidal Orthodox proposal, the Christians’ inane choices are paving the way toward their complete irrelevance.
It is sad to see what is happening to Christians in the Middle East. Threatened with extinction, they are yet a vital part of the region’s cultural wealth and vitality. An Arab world without Christians will only sink further into debilitating unanimity and intolerance. There have been some statements denouncing this, but most Arabs have failed to grasp its true implications. And Christian behavior, alas, has not helped them to do so.
Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR. He tweets @BeirutCalling.

Rai: Presidential void is a mark of shame
The Daily Star/18 August/14
BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Monday criticized the Lebanese political class for failing to elect a new president, saying it would be a mark of shame in the country’s history. “We are disappointed that those responsible for the political work here are destroying the country’s pillars every day,” said Rai, at the annual meeting held by the Qannoubine Mission and Heritage League at his Diman summer residence. “Five months have passed while Lebanon is without a president and the presidential palace is closed,” he added. “This is shameful for our Lebanese dignity, because the lawmakers haven’t conducted any session with quorum.” Rai said that the lack of president is a “stain on Lebanon’s history,” stressing that the country cannot function without its head of state.
“The head is the motor, and when it is not there everything else will fail,” he said. Rai criticized the calls for legislation in the Parliament, saying the latter’s role is restricted to electing president as long as the void remains. “During presidential vacuum, the Parliament becomes an electoral committee,” he said. “If it attempts to legislate, that would be against the constitution.”

Siniora: Parliament may be extended for limited time

The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Parliament may have to temporarily extend its mandate MP Fouad Siniora says, as Cabinet fails to meet the legal deadline to publish a decree calling on the electorate to participate in parliamentary elections set for November. “We may be forced to resort to an extension of Parliament’s mandate, but only for a limited time,” said the head of the Future bloc.
The extended period would be used to elect a president, he added. Siniora said that the country was going through a difficult phase, and overall security conditions prompted the suspension of parliamentary elections, referencing the security threats previously mentioned by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.For his part, Machnouk stressed the need for the Cabinet to publish the decree calling on the electorate to participate in parliamentary elections. “It must be issued by Cabinet in order for it to become effective,” said the interior minister in an interview with An-Nahar daily Sunday.
“The issue will be discussed in Cabinet’s extraordinary session Tuesday,” he added. However, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said that the decree was not on the Cabinet’s agenda for Tuesday’s session, saying instead that the topic would likely be discussed in a session set for next Thursday.
The decree calling on the electorate to vote should have been published before Monday, Aug. 18th, as per the constitutional deadline for issuing the bill. The invitation for the electorate to participate in upcoming elections must be delivered ninety days before the date of parliamentary polls, which are set for November 16.
The failure to issue the decree constitutes a breach of the ninety-day time limit to challenge the election before the State Council.
The decree also required the signatures of all twenty-four ministers in accordance with the mechanism adopted by Cabinet, allowing it to exercise the powers of the president.
“Had there been an election of a president then there wouldn’t have been any justification from political parties to ask for an extension of Parliament’s mandate,” said Health Minister Wael Abu Faour after a meeting with former President Michel Sleiman. Berri argued that a parliamentary extension was driven by a fear of an overall vacancy in all state institutions.
Earlier this month, Machnouk issued the decree to Cabinet calling on resident and non-resident members of the electorate to participate in upcoming elections on the basis of the enforced electoral law No. 25/2008 in accordance with constitutional deadlines. The interior minister had also issued another degree regarding the formation of the supervisory council overseeing election campaigns.
hnouk said that security agencies had advised against holding the parliamentary elections scheduled in November, setting the stage for another possible extension of Parliament's mandate
Last year in March, lawmakers voted to extend their mandate for 17 months, citing security concerns following months of futile talks on a draft electoral law to replace the current one – the 1960 election law.
Since then, MPs have failed to resume discussions on a new law that many see as necessary to hold the election.
Several officials have also hinted that upcoming parliamentary polls would be delayed in light of the deteriorating security in the country due to the raging conflict in neighboring Syria.

Jumblatt issues warning for Druze sect in Syria

The Daily Star/18 August/14
BEIRUT: The Druze sect in Syria should not fall prey to manipulative Syrian regime policies that aim at sparking sectarian strife said Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt Monday, urging the offshoot Muslim sect to look toward a wider pan-Arab belonging.
“The Arab Druze must decide between a narrow and temporary sectarian affiliation that is being manipulated by the Syrian regime and a wider Arabic belonging” he said.
Jumblatt’s statement followed the death of a Syrian member of the Lebanese “Arab Tawhid Party”, who died “while resisting an armed attack” in the neighboring country's town of Dama.
Jumblatt said that sectarian identity does not protect the Druze minority that is spread across Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, arguing that a united Arab identity preserves the sect in the framework of its indigenous political and geographical climate.The Druze leader called on the sect’s spiritual heads to employ the highest degree of vigilance, warning that the Syrian regime wants to use the Druze in a battle that has destroyed both Syria and its population. “The policy of manipulating sects and faiths that is relied on by the Syrian regime hasn’t even spared the Alawite sect” said Jumblatt, in reference to President Bashar Assad’s sect and main constituency. The Socialist Party head emphasized that Syrian regime policies aim at turning regions and sects against each other as to facilitate the spread of Assad’s control over different areas in Syria.“The moment that the Druze fall in the regime's trap, and follow the minority theories that the [regime] promotes, then they will have abandoned their... struggle for a diverse and pan-Arab Syria” he concluded.

Kabbara: Tripoli supports the state and its institutions
The Daily Star/18 August/14
BEIRUT: Future MP Mohammad Kabbara said Monday that recent clashes in Arsal comprised a bigger conspiracy targeting Lebanon, stressing that Tripoli supports the state and its institutions.
“Lebanon is experiencing the most dangerous existential crisis since the independence of 1943,” Kabbara said in a statement. He said what happened in Arsal is “nothing but one element of the continuous conspiracy aiming at permanently overthrowing the Lebanese state... and creating another state, different from the one we want and insist on.”Kabbara stressed that Tripoli’s decision is “the Lebanese state and its legitimate institutions,” saying this was the reason for the “random war against us to distort our positions and accuse us of standing against the state.”The Tripoli MP also expressed hope that the abducted security soldiers are released as soon as possible, praising “everyone who is putting an effort into this direction.”

Assyrians in Windsor Rally to Raise Awareness About Iraqi Assyrians
By Joel Boyce
Posted 2014-08-18 /Syndicated News
Mary Ashoor holds up a sign at the rally at City Hall Sunday, August 17, 2014, in support of thousands of Christians being forced to leave their homes in Iraq (photo: Joel Boyce/The Windsor Star).
Windsor's Assyrian community has a message for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: Our faith is stronger than your guns. More than 100 people in the Windsor Assyrian community rallied at city hall Sunday afternoon in support of thousands of Christians being forced to leave their homes in Iraq. "(The Canadian government) don't see our nation is on the verge of collapsing," said rally organizer Ramsin Ishaq. "They think it's a Christian story or a religious war, but it's actually deeper than that. It's ethnic cleansing, too." ISIS, an Islamist militant group, has been attacking and seizing towns in the country, taking hold of border posts, targeting dams, and persecuting Christians and other minorities. The group captured the city of Mosul on June 10 and threatened Christians in the city with an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or die. The ultimatum led to the exodus of 35,000 Assyrians from Mosul, joining thousands of others fleeing the brutality. The rally in Windsor was organized to urge the Canadian government to send aid and to raise awareness of the humanitarian needs of Assyrian refugees. "We urge the Canadian government and its allies to help provide a safe haven," Ishaq said. The rally chanted, "Tell me why, tell me why, innocent Christians have to die" while holding signs reading, "Stop killing Iraqi Christians. Stop ISIS," and, "Our faith is stronger than your guns."


Mosul From a 19th Century Perspective
By Kate Seelye
Posted 2014-08-18
Syndicated News
One hundred and sixty-three years before the Islamic State's band of thugs rolled into Mosul terrorizing the city's minorities, my Protestant missionary ancestor, his wife, and two children settled in Mosul, a long way from the home they left behind in Utica, New York.
In 1851 Mosul was a prosperous trading town, known for its diverse mix of religious and ethnic communities occupying the lands of ancient Assyria. The Boston-based American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions saw in Mosul a unique opportunity to preach the gospel among a rich mosaic of faiths and sent my great-great grandfather, Frederic Williams, and his wife, Sarah, to set up a mission after several years of Arabic study in Lebanon.
Introducing Protestantism to Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, as the surrounding area was known, was a bit like bringing coals to Newcastle. The region was already home to many Christian churches and denominations, both Orthodox and Catholic, among them Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Armenians, who lived side by side with the region's other religious and ethnic groups. These included Sunni Muslims, Jews, Kurds, Turkomen, Shabaks, Mandeans (who follow St. John the Baptist), and Yazidis, who recently came to world attention after being trapped in the Sinjar mountain range by Islamic State fighters and threatened with extinction for being, in the eyes of the fighters, "devil worshippers."
Shortly after arriving in Mosul in 1851, Frederic Williams described in a report to the American Board a breakfast with six villagers who used nine dialects of five languages every day. "You will scarcely find a lad in his teens that does not use at least two tongues; and to travel a hundred miles from Mosul, four are necessary," he wrote in a later report.[1]
This rich tapestry of tongues and sects was thriving in the middle of the nineteenth century, protected by a relatively benevolent Ottoman caliph.
Williams and other missionaries serving in the area reported generally cordial interfaith relations. English missionary Horatio Southgate describes in his diaries that while Muslims viewed Christians as second class citizens, Muslims nevertheless showed an unusual degree of "familiarity and regard" toward the Christians of Mosul. He writes that Muslims saluted Christian priests with great respect and sometimes even attended Christian services.[2]
Still, Frederic observed occasional disputes among the mix of religions and ethnicities, especially after growing tensions between Turkey and Russia placed new pressures on the region's Christians, who were perceived as having greater loyalty toward Russia. The tensions, however, certainly did not approach today's levels. As for Frederic, the main persecution he faced was harassment from the pastors of the Eastern churches, who were annoyed that a Yankee interloper was stealing their congregants away.
This rich history underscores the tragedy in northern Iraq today. For many Americans, the barbarity perpetrated by the Islamic State is business as usual, a routine part of the fabric of sectarian violence endemic to the Middle East. But as Frederic's diaries reveal, diversity and a degree of tolerance unheard of today were more the norm in the area in the mid-nineteenth century. Indeed, this level of tolerance could generally be found under the Islamic Caliphate, which came to an end with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. Minority communities then survived in "modern Iraq," even under Saddam Hussein. How else could the Yazidis, a religious group believed to be more than 4,000 years old, have survived?
Today the Yazidis are being threatened with extinction by the extremists who make up the Islamic State. But the threats they face are not new. Sadly, Yazidis, like Iraq's other minorities, were facing persecution by al-Qa'ida in Iraq and its sympathizers years before the Islamic State rampaged through Mosul. In 2007 a series of car bombings almost completely wiped out two small Yazidi villages, killing more than 500 people and making it the deadliest event since the U.S. invasion of 2003.
As religious extremism and intolerance have become the norm in Iraq and minority communities have faced assassinations, bombings, arbitrary detention, and attacks on religious sites, hundreds of thousands have fled the country. Iraq's large Christian community, which numbered more than one million in 2003, is today less than half that size.[3] This community took an even bigger hit in recent weeks, when thousands more Christians from northern Iraq fled their homes in Mosul and predominantly Christian towns like Qaraqosh to seek refuge in Kurdistan after Islamic State fighters gave them an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face death. To mark Christians for conversions, the fighters spray-painted their homes with the Arabic letter "noon," the first letter of the Arabic word "Nasara," the Quranic reference to the supporters of Jesus.
Before the latest horrors faced by Iraq's minorities, some who had stayed behind put forward various proposals to the Iraqi government and the international community suggesting how to ensure their protection. One idea floated was to establish an autonomous area for Iraq's minorities called the Nineveh Plain Administrative Unit. But while the recent violence might provide good reason for establishment of a safe zone, it does not solve the root causes of the problems that have made life hell for Iraq's minorities.
Regardless of what happens to the Islamic State, Iraqis and their government still have to address the illness tearing their society apart, that is, the communal and religious hatreds that have turned the country into a sectarian cauldron, pitting not only Muslim against Christian and Yazidi, but also Sunni against Shi'a and vice versa.
And though, with the invasion of Iraq, the United States played a significant role in creating the political environment for today's sectarianism, it is Iraqis who must address the societal divisions currently wreaking so much havoc. President Obama recently told the New York Times that America's military might be able to put a lid on the current Islamic State problem, but he added that Iraqis "themselves will have to make some hard decisions going forward about how they are going to live together, how they are going to accommodate each other's interests, [and] how they are going to compromise."[4]
If this does not come to pass, the rich mosaic of communities inhabiting northern Iraq and the Nineveh Plain--some of them for thousands of years--will indeed be permanently lost, remembered only through history books and the letters and diaries of one American missionary who had the good fortune to know the area in more peaceful times.
[1] Diaries of Frederic Williams, 1851, Collection, Amherst College.
[2] John Joseph, Muslim-Christian Relations and Inter-Christian Rivalries in the Middle East (Albany: SUNY Press, 1983).
[3] Elizabeth Ferris and Kimberly Stoltz, Minorities, Displacement and Iraq's Future (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2008).
[4] Thomas L. Friedman, "Obama on the World," New York Times, 8 August 2014.
Kate Seelye is senior vice president of the Middle East Institute. Prior to joining MEI, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world from her base in Beirut, Lebanon.


Sherman's 300,000 and the Caliphate's Three Million
by David P. Goldman/Asia Times
August 12, 2014
When General William Tecumseh Sherman burned the city of Atlanta in 1864, he warned, "I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them." Add a zero to calibrate the problem in the Levant today. War in the Middle East is less a strategic than a demographic phenomenon, the resolution of which will come with the exhaustion of the pool of potential fighters.
The Middle East has plunged into a new Thirty Years War, allows Richard Haass, the president of the Council of Foreign Relations:
It is a region wracked by religious struggle between competing traditions of the faith. But the conflict is also between militants and moderates, fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence. Conflicts take place within and between states; civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish. Governments often forfeit control to smaller groups - militias and the like - operating within and across borders. The loss of life is devastating, and millions are rendered homeless.
Well and good: I predicted in 2006 that the George W. Bush administration's blunder would provoke another Thirty Years War in the region, and repeated the diagnosis many times since. But I doubt that Mr. Haass (or Walter Russell Mead, who cited the Haass article) has given sufficient thought to the implications.
How does one handle wars of this sort? In 2008, I argued for a "Richelovian" foreign policy, that is, emulation of the evil genius who guided France to victory at the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in 1648. Wars of this sort end when two generations of fighters are killed. They last for decades (as did the Peloponnesian War, the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th century) because one kills off the fathers in the first half of the war, and the sons in the second.
This new Thirty Years War has its origins in a demographic peak and an economic trough. There are nearly 30 million young men aged 15 to 24 in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, a bulge generation produced by pre-modern fertility rates that prevailed a generation ago. But the region's economies cannot support them. Syria does not have enough water to support an agricultural population, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers into tent cities preceded its civil war. The West mistook the death spasms of a civilization for an "Arab Spring," and its blunders channeled the youth bulge into a regional war.
The way to win such a war is by attrition, that is, by feeding into the meat-grinder a quarter to a third of the enemy's available manpower. Once a sufficient number of those who wish to fight to the death have had the opportunity to do so, the war stops because there are insufficient recruits to fill the ranks. That is how Generals Grant and Sherman fought the American Civil War, and that is the indicated strategy in the Middle East today.
It is a horrible business. It was not inevitable. It came about because of the ideological rigidity of the Bush Administration, compounded by the strategic withdrawal of the Obama administration. It could have been avoided by the cheap and simple expedient bombing of Iran's nuclear program and Revolutionary Guards bases, followed by an intensive subversion effort aimed at regime change in Teheran. Former Vice President Dick Cheney advocated this course of action, but then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice persuaded Bush that the Muslim world would never forgive America for an attack on another Muslim state.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, warned Bush that America's occupation army in Iraq had become hostage to Iranian retaliation: if America bombed Iran, Iran could exact vengeance in American blood in the cities of Iraq. Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen told Charlie Rose on March 16, 2009:
What I worry about in terms of an attack on Iran is, in addition to the immediate effect, the effect of the attack, it's the unintended consequences. It's the further destabilization in the region. It's how they would respond. We have lots of Americans who live in that region who are under the threat envelope right now [because of the] capability that Iran has across the Gulf. So, I worry about their responses and I worry about it escalating in ways that we couldn't predict.
The Bush administration was too timid to take on Iran; the Obama administration views Iran as a prospective ally. Even Neville Chamberlain did not regard Hitler as prospective partner in European security. But that is what Barack Obama said in March to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg:
What I'll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they're not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn't to say that they aren't a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they're not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish, and can respond to incentives.
Bush may have been feckless, but Obama is mad.
With Iran neutralized, Syrian President Basher Assad would have had no choice but to come to terms with Syria's Sunni majority; as it happens, he had the firepower to expel millions of them. Without the protection of Tehran, Iraq's Shia would have had to compromise with Sunnis and Kurds. Iraqi Sunnis would not have allied with ISIS against the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad. A million or more Iraqis would not have been displaced by the metastasizing Caliphate.
The occupation of Iraq in the pursuit of nation building was colossally stupid. It wasted thousands of lives and disrupted millions, cost the better part of a trillion dollars, and demoralized the American public like no failure since Vietnam – most of all America's young people. Not only did it fail to accomplish its objective, but it kept America stuck in a tar-baby trap, unable to take action against the region's main malefactor. Worst of all: the methods America employed in order to give the Iraq war the temporary appearance of success set in motion the disaster we have today. I warned of this in a May 4, 2010 essay entitled, General Petraeus' Thirty Years War (Asia Times Online, May 4, 2010).
The great field marshal of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, Albrecht von Wallenstein, taught armies to live off the land, and succeeded so well that nearly half the people of Central Europe starved to death during the conflict. General David Petraeus, who heads America's Central Command (CENTCOM), taught the land to live off him. Petraeus' putative success in the Iraq "surge" of 2007-2008 is one of the weirder cases of Karl Marx's quip of history repeating itself first as tragedy second as farce. The consequences will be similar, that is, hideous.
Wallenstein put 100,000 men into the field, an army of terrifying size for the times, by turning the imperial army into a parasite that consumed the livelihood of the empire's home provinces. The Austrian Empire fired him in 1629 after five years of depredation, but pressed him back into service in 1631. Those who were left alive joined the army, in a self-feeding spiral of destruction on a scale not seen in Europe since the 8th century. Wallenstein's power grew with the implosion of civil society, and the Austrian emperor had him murdered in 1634.
Petraeus accomplished the same thing with (literally) bags of money. Starting with Iraq, the American military has militarized large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the name of pacification. And now America is engaged in a grand strategic withdrawal from responsibility in the region, leaving behind men with weapons and excellent reason to use them.
There is no way to rewind the tape after the fragile ties of traditional society have been ripped to shreds by war. All of this was foreseeable; most of it might have been averted. But the sordid players in this tragicomedy had too much reputation at stake to reverse course when it still was possible. Now they will spend the declining years of their careers blaming each other.
Three million men will have to die before the butchery comes to an end. That is roughly the number of men who have nothing to go back to, and will fight to the death rather than surrender.
ISIS by itself is overrated. It is a horde enhanced by captured heavy weapons, but cannot fly warplanes in a region where close air support is the decisive factor in battle. The fighters of the Caliphate cannot hide under the jungle canopy like the North Vietnamese. They occupy terrain where aerial reconnaissance can identify every stray cat. The Saudi and Jordanian air forces are quite capable of defending their borders. Saudi Arabia has over 300 F-15′s and 72 Typhoons, and more than 80 Apache attack helicopters. Jordan has 60 F16′s as well as 25 Cobra attack helicopters. The putative Caliphate can be contained; it cannot break out into Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and it cannot advance far into the core Shia territory of Iraq. It can operate freely in Syria, in a war of attrition with the Iranian backed government army. The grim task of regional security policy is to channel the butchery into areas that do not threaten oil production or transport.
Ultimately, ISIS is a distraction. The problem is Iran. Without Iran, Hamas would have no capacity to strike Israel beyond a few dozen kilometers past the Gaza border. Iran now has GPS-guided missiles which are much harder to shoot down than ordinary ballistic missiles (an unguided missile has a trajectory that is easy to calculate after launch; guided missiles squirrel about seeking their targets). If Hamas acquires such rockets – and it will eventually if left to its own devices – Israel will have to strike further, harder and deeper to eliminate the threat. That confrontation will not come within a year, and possibly not within five years, but it looms over the present hostilities. The region's security will hinge on the ultimate reckoning with Iran.
**David P Goldman is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Was Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World – It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.

Arabs helpless as the neighborhood implodes
Monday, 18 August 2014
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya
Feeling proud to be Arab isn’t easy nowadays. What’s there to be proud of when bodies are piling high in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Libya while the Arab World does little except to appeal for help from the U.S. and its allies, which only intervene militarily when such intervention suits their geopolitical interests?
President Obama is a maestro of finger-wagging and uttering condemnations but when it comes to acting in dire emergencies his record is poor. His foreign policy is a maze of directionless confusion as his approval ratings evidence. He stepped in to relieve Libya of its dictator and subsequently abandoned the country to feuding militias while ignoring recent calls by the Libyan government for urgent assistance. He pledged to arm the Syrian opposition only to renege on that promise and, worse, he pulled back from military intervention there are at the 11th hour, permitting the Assad regime to continue slaughtering its own citizens.
Likewise, he’s displayed glaring double standards over Israel’s massacre of almost 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza, handing out light criticisms of Israel’s disproportionate assaults while re-supplying Netanyahu with heavy weapons in equal measure. Moreover, the White House has chosen to bash Egypt, currently mediating sensitive negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, over its jailing of three Al Jazeera journalists, which is laughable given the carnage throughout the region, not to mention that several journalists were arrested and others gassed during the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
Just days ago, he gave a press conference announcing that he was sending the cavalry to rescue thousands of Yazidis trapped on an arid mountain top without shade, food or water surrounded by ISIS terrorists, only to change his mind the very next day on the grounds there were only 2,000 left - a figure rejected by Yazidis who say there are still 10,000 in danger. The images of desperate women and children scrambling to get on aid helicopters and, in some cases, throwing their babies into the arms of someone inside, are heart-breaking. Dropping bombs just won’t cut it.
Now Obama proposes to arm the Kurdish Peshmerga to take on an organization so bloodthirsty it hands it children severed heads to parade on social media, buries people alive or nails them to crosses. It’s preposterous that 10,000 – 15,000 monstrous killers have been allowed to proliferate across northern Syria and Iraq terrorising minorities, grabbing towns, villages, weapons depots, cash from banks, power stations and a crucial dam that could be used to flood entire areas of the country as far south as the capital.
Obama isn’t being naïve
One is left wondering on why he failed to support the Syrian opposition with sophisticated weapons, but has no hesitation in arming the Kurds. A skeptic would say that the oil-rich Kurdish region has been a U.S. client state since Saddam’s era, which is now supplying oil to Israel via a pipeline.
Obama says he wants to pivot the U.S. away from the Middle East. Let’s help him on his way by taking responsibility for our own security
America’s Commander-in-Chief seems to think that a mere change of face in Iraq’s prime ministerial chair will do the trick in that Sunni tribes sick of being oppressed and marginalized by Maliki will now rally around the government, even though his replacement Haider al-Abadi shares his predecessor’s ideology. Obama isn’t being naïve. His message is ‘We are punishing Maliki for refusing to sign our status of forces agreement but we will support Abadi as long as he accepts that the U.S. now owns him’.
In all honesty, it feels as if the U.S. owns all of us and it’s beyond time the unhealthy dependency of Arab countries on western protection is ended because, for one thing, we are not being protected and, for another, when we have armies, ‘Made in America’ airplanes, helicopters, missiles and tanks, why aren’t we defending ourselves? Are our hefty arms purchases that help fill U.S. and European state coffers and bump up the share prices of weapons manufacturers simply décor?
With the Arab region in such political and security disarray, GCC States should band together and take the lead. The first step would be to form a joint military under a single commander, which has been talked about, but never implemented. Together, we could wield substantial military strength that would not be ignored.
A unified position
The GCC should also take a unified position on the diplomatic front. Enough issuing statements disregarded by the international community because they are not backed up with serious clout! We have so many tools that could be used for influence at our disposal if only we mustered the guts to use them. Why is it that when the U.S., the U.N., the EU and Russia throw out sanctions like confetti, all we do is grumble? The Arabian Gulf Countries invest hundreds of billions in the U.S. and the EU and private GCC investors account for hundreds of billions more.
Obama says he wants to pivot the U.S. away from the Middle East. Let’s help him on his way by taking responsibility for our own security. We should start with wiping ISIS from the face of the earth before its evil contaminates our own soil. The U.N. Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution barring all funding to ISIS and insisting that all U.N. member countries must stem recruitment. Too little, too late! It’s currently deemed the wealthiest terrorist group, flush with captured U.S. weapons. What I find particularly distressing is the way ISIS is being treated by the U.S. and other countries as though it really does constitute a de facto legal state, instead of the murderous gang it is. You don’t boycott terrorists, you eradicate them. That should be self-evident but in this world gone mad, a world where black is often portrayed as white and vice versa, apparently not. When western ISIS fighters return to their home countries with an ingrained thirst for blood, perhaps then the international community will come to its senses. Once again, I would strongly urge GCC leaders to adopt a unified strategy designed to tackle these new threats and injustices. If we continue living in the past, expecting to be taken care of by outside powers, our children’s future will be betrayed by our apathy and if something isn’t done, we risk witnessing our own borders being re-drawn.

Heaven or Hell? The Iranian nuclear team’s road ahead
Monday, 18 August 2014
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
Last Sunday, a regional civilian airplane assembled in Iran crashed near Mehrabad airport in Tehran, killing 39 and injuring another nine people on board. The Iran-140 is a plane based on Ukrainian technology that is assembled under license in Iran. Five of these planes have crashed in the recent years and it’s not a secret that the US strict sanctions forced Iran to use sub-standard and cheap quality aircrafts.
In the wake of Iran’s negotiations with Western powers, especially the United States, over its nuclear file, aircraft company Boeing has announced it has been given limited US government approval to export spare parts to Iran. Still, the permission from the US Treasury does not include allowing any US or European companies to sell new aircrafts to Iran. However, Boeing said it had "entered into an agreement and engaged in related discussions with Iran Air" setting forth the general conditions by which it will sell airplane parts and other safety-related equipment.
Under a six-month deal implemented in January this year with P5+1 (Five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany), Iran has agreed to scale down its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from six world powers. That deal was extended by four months in July after the parties failed to reach a comprehensive deal.
It may not be a long way to go to reach a comprehensive agreement and open Iran's doors for business and a higher quality of living for Iranians, but there still remains some barriers to cross before the November 23rd deadline.
Under a phased cooperation pact hammered out late last year with the IAEA investigation, Iran agreed to implement five nuclear transparency measures by August 25. Yukia Amano, Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), arrived in Tehran on Sunday Aug 17 ahead of the deadline to hold talks with President Rowhani and other officials. Iran is supposed to provide some information relevant to the enquiry by the IAEA regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, and Amano’s first meeting with president Rowhani is seen as an attempt to push for progress before making his report to P5+1 ahead of their meeting with Iran before the interim deal expires on November 23.
It may not be a long way to go to reach a comprehensive agreement and open Iran's doors for business
While the lifting of some sanctions improved the economy in general, the perspective of reaching the final agreement in November is what most Iranians look for. But it seems that Iran’s supreme leader thinks differently from both his people and the government.
Khamenei, who was speaking to a gathering of Iran’s diplomats in Tehran on 13 August, told them that despite this year of talks with the US, Washington hasn’t decreased its animosity against Iran. “Americans didn’t decrease their animosity nor did they lift the sanctions, and in fact, increased the sanctions! Of course they are saying these sanctions are not new, but they are new and the negotiations on sanctions were useless.” Khamenei said. According to Iranian customs data, the country in recent months has exported 525,000 barrels of ultralight oil a day, known as condensates. In the last three months, the sales have generated as much as $1.5 billion in extra trade — amounting to $6 billion a year. There is no doubt that Iran’s economy has been boosted as a result of the direct talks with the U.S. regardless of the supreme leader's remarks.
‘Cowards go to Hell’
What Ayatollah Khamenei said last Wednesday shouldn’t be interpreted that is against the talks. Eventually, the supreme leader is not against the talks but he is against Iran and the U.S. become friendly nations simply because Iran’s civil aviation is no longer safe for its people or that it desperately needs access to international banking system. The supreme leader said there was no benefit in negotiating with the U.S. except in certain cases. “Of course, in the area of nuclear talks, we will not stop them,” Khamenei said.
In contrast, the moderate camp believes Iran must reach an agreement immediately.
“Cowards, go to hell,” Rowhani said of the conservatives in Iran during the same week in which Iran’s central bank received the final payment of funds that were frozen by the U.S., $500 million, out of a total of $4.2 billion.
If the economy is getting better because of the talks with the U.S., then why is the supreme leader denying it?! Did he want to assure his supporters who are criticizing the president and his negotiating team that his support for them has a limit?
Eventually, and by the end of November, a group in Iran would "go to hell". Till then, the president and his team on one hand, and his opponents and the supreme leader, on the other hand, choose to remain in limbo.

Double standards: Why fight ISIS in Iraq, not in Syria?
Monday, 18 August 2014
Mohamed Chebarro/Al Arabiya
The West wholeheartedly rushed to rescue thousands of Yazidis in Northern Iraq. France rushed weapons to the Kurdish Peshmerga. The UK opened it depots for urgent delivery of ammunition and weapon systems to help the Kurds of Iraq. The U.S. sent military advisors after several air strikes on ISIS positions were launched from the George W Bush aircraft carrier positioned in the Gulf.
Observers cannot but be astonished. The West has rushed to help Iraqi minorities, Yazidis and Christians, and has left thousands of Syrians to face the butchery of the Assad regime, ISIS, Alawites, Hezbollah, and all sectarian Iraqi and Iranian imported militias who claim to be defending minorities’ rights in Syria.
The death of one Iraqi citizen should be taken as serious as a Syrian citizen targeted by ISIS, al-Nusra Front, the armed opposition or the Assad regime and its allies.
In Syria, three full years have passed and neither the U.N. nor the international community managed to provide substantial help to Syrians displaced within Syria (those are said to be in excess of 6 million as per U.N. figures) or Syrian refugees in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey also a number estimated at 3 million plus.
The Syrian refugee crisis is by far the most serious the region and the world has witnessed for many decades, yet the stalled response by the international community is questionable if compared to the response seen in the last few days in Iraq.
Chasing ISIS
The Syrian opposition has been calling for many months the Friends of Syria Group to arm its brigade to bring down the Assad regime and stop the daily butchering and ethnic cleansing of Syrian civilians in various parts of the country. Fears that sophisticated weapons have reached the hands of extremists have prevented action, while Syrian regime aircraft kept pounding cities and villages outside the control of the regime with all kind of ammunition, and the list is long.
In Syria, three full years have passed and neither the U.N. nor the international community managed to provide substantial help to Syrians
An internationally protected safe haven in Syria was proposed on humanitarian grounds many times to house Syrian civilian inside the Syrian border only to be vetoed by Russia and China. Yet the international community was very active in scrambling U.S. fighter jets to pound ISIS positions close to the Iraqi Kurdish province, and for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to start receiving huge weapons shipment.
Double standards it maybe, but the life of Iraqis is as important as the life of human being anywhere and specially that of Syrians. And if the fight against ISIS and it's sisters and brothers is to succeed, the fight needs to threaten ISIS positions and bases in Syria too.
The new Security Council resolution unanimously adopted under chapter seven should prepare the ground to chase ISIS and other similar organizations across the Middle East, Europe and other hotbeds of extremism all over the world.
It is realistic to expect the Russian warning that the new U.N. resolution should be limited in its scope, but fighting ISIS means giving the British police extra powers to deal with returning foreign fighters as much as dealing with recruitment center up and down the country... In the same way fighting ISIS should extend to Syrian provinces where ISIS is recruiting and grooming new fighters who originate from marginalized communities in London, Sydney, Cairo, and Riyadh.