August 20/14

Bible Quotation for today/God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
John's First Letter 1/5-10: "This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 19 & 20/14

Lessons of the War in Gaza/By Daniel Pipes/National Review Online/August 20/14

ISIS on Film: Swords, deaths and clichés/Diana Moukalled/Al Arabiya/August 20/14

Who are Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmergettes?/By: Salma el-Shahed | Al Arabiya News/August 20/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 19 & 20/14

Future bloc: Priority for presidential election

Jumblat Says IS's Terror Compels Lebanese Unity
SCC Announces Thursday General Strike, Studying Lawsuit to Halt Passing Statements

UCC continues boycott, slams Bou Saab

Kahwagi: Freeing the soldiers is the main priority

Jomaa's Attorney Requests Delay in Client's Interrogation to Submit Pleas
Cabinet Calls on Electoral Bodies to Begin Preparing for Parliamentary Polls

Failure to issue decree cancels election: Baroud

Beirut water safe to drink: company

Audi cautiously optimistic about Lebanon’s economy

Graduates downbeat about prospects
Hezbollah kills suicide bombing plotter: activists
Aoun Leaves Hospital after Arm Surgery, Thanks Those Who checked on Him
Operator of Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade Twitter Account Charged with Inciting Sedition
Motorists Queue at Lebanon's Northern Border Crossings
Officials: Security Agencies Up Intelligence to Thwart Arsal-Like Attacks
FPM to Challenge Extension of Parliament Term, Consider it Worsens Political Impasse


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 19 & 20/14

Islamic State to US: We'll drown all of you in

World Must Act to Halt Iraq 'Genocide,' Says Yazidi Leader's Son
ISIS is enemy No. 1 of Islam, says Saudi grand mufti

Haditha Dam under threat from ISIS, warns official

Obama: Iraq has regained control of Mosul dam

New Gaza fighting halts Cairo truce talks

U.S. Blames Hamas for Gaza Truce Collapse

Hamas: Israel is escalating the situation to influence Cairo truce talks
Cairo draft accord may embody Israeli concessions on security in return for Hamas truce

Prominent activist in Egypt goes on hunger strike
Qatar-GCC diplomatic dispute not resolved: source

Kahwagi: Freeing the soldiers is the main priority
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Tuesday once again reassured the relatives of missing soldiers that the military’s main concern was to secure their safe return.
During his meeting with families of missing soldiers, Kahwagi said that “the case of the missing soldiers is the main priority of the Army's leadership and will remain at the forefront of our concerns until we achieve justice and return them to their families as soon as possible.” He also commended the courage of the martyrs and their exceptional heroism. “Their blood protected Lebanon from division and collapse, and prevented the fire of strife from reaching the heart of the country,” he said. Militants are still holding 19 soldiers and 14 members of the Internal Security Forces, but have released six security personnel as a sign of goodwill since the clashes ended. Beginning Aug. 2, the Army engaged in fierce clashes with militants from Syria for five days, resulting in the deaths of dozens of gunmen and at least 19 soldiers. The fighting in the border region of Arsal was triggered by the Army’s arrest of a prominent Syrian opposition commander who had recently joined ISIS. According to the Committee of Muslim Scholars, who had mediated the cease-fire and was negotiating the release of the soldiers, the government received a list of demands Monday from the militants. The demands included protection and humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees in Arsal, as well as easing security measures around refugee camps. The Syrian go-between in the contacts between the militants and the committee, Ahmad al-Qusair, told The Daily Star last week that the release of innocent Islamist inmates in Roumieh figured prominently in the demands. He said that negotiations had come to an impasse because the government considered the militants’ demands as coming at too high a cost.

Failure to issue decree cancels election: Baroud
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: This fall’s parliamentary election has been canceled altogether, according to former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, over the Cabinet’s failure to sign the decree calling on the electorate to take part in the polls. “The failure to issue a decree to call for the electoral committees by officials, before the legal, binding day, has led to the cancellation of the scheduled election,” Baroud said Tuesday in a statement aimed at clarifying the controversy over the decree. “Unfortunately, this dangerous negligence cannot be amended now unless [lawmakers] amend the election law itself,” he added. “The purpose behind [the failure] could be to impose a status quo and once again extend Parliament's mandate in an illegal manner.” The Cabinet failed to meet the legal deadline to publish a decree calling on the electorate to vote in parliamentary polls scheduled for Nov. 16. The decree should have been published before Monday, 90 days before the election. Lawmakers have been in talks over the possibility of extending Parliament’s mandate for the second time in less than two years, citing security concerns. The presidential vacuum also throws the election into doubt, as the head of state must appoint a new prime minister and Cabinet after parliamentary elections. Baroud explained that calling on the electorate to take part in the polls was effectively the means by which the Cabinet scheduled parliamentary elections.
“The Constitution stipulates that the election should be held on a single day, a Sunday, and the last Sunday before Parliament's mandate expires is Nov. 16, which means that the election can no longer be held on that day in light of the 90-day rule,” he wrote. “The decree ... is issued by the Interior Ministry and includes the signatures of both the prime minister and the president ... however, in light of the presidential void, the powers of the president are vested in the Cabinet, which agreed to unanimously approve any decree.”In light of the presidential void, the Cabinet has agreed on a governing mechanism requiring all 24 ministers to sign any decree the government passes.

Future bloc: Priority for presidential election
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The parliamentary Future bloc renewed its call Tuesday for priority to be given to the election of a new president to avoid the security and constitutional ramifications that might arise from holding parliamentary polls before the presidential vote. The bloc also reiterated its demand for securing the release of military and security personnel held hostage by Islamist militants following the clashes with the Lebanese Army in the northeastern town of Arsal earlier this month. “Political efforts in Lebanon should be concentrated on holding the presidential election in order to put an end to the vacancy in the presidency. In other words, priority for lawmakers and political leaders should be the election of a president in order for constitutional institutions to be completed,” the bloc said in a statement following its weekly meeting chaired by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Referring to the spillover of the “grave developments” in the region into Lebanon, it added: “Priority should be to work for the election of a president to ward off the security and constitutional repercussions that might result from holding parliamentary elections before the election of a president.”
Parliament failed last week for the 10th time in four months to elect a new president over a lack of quorum, raising fears of a prolonged vacancy in the country’s top Christian post.
The bloc said “national responsibility” must compel all political parties without exception to work to prevent “Lebanon’s slide into a vacuum in its institutions.”
It called for arming and bolstering the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security institutions to help them “confront terrorism and terrorists ..., especially since the financial resources were secured through the appreciated and unprecedented Saudi aid.” It was referring to Saudi King Abdullah’s $1 billion grant to shore up the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security forces in their battle against terrorism following the Army’s clashes with Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Arsal. The bloc underlined the need for “a serious work and intensive follow-up in order to secure the release of the captured Lebanese military personnel and return them to their families.”At least 19 soldiers have been killed in five days of ferocious fighting between the Lebanese Army and militants in and around Arsal that erupted after the militants overran the town on Aug. 2, in the most serious spillover of Syria’s civil war into Lebanon. Another 19 soldiers are still missing, along with 15 policemen, believed to be held by the militants. More than 60 militants and 42 civilians were also killed. The bloc slammed Hezbollah’s involvement in the war in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, saying the party’s role had exacerbated the “terrorist wave” in the region. “Hezbollah’s public bias to the side of the oppressive regime [in Syria] has caused dangerous repercussions on Lebanon and the Lebanese and on their relations with their Arab environment,” the bloc said.

UCC continues boycott, blames Bou Saab for certificates
Hassan Lakkis| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Union Coordination Committee announced after a long meeting Tuesday that it would commit to its decision to boycott correcting the official exams, blaming the “political class” for giving students the controversial passing certificates.
“Education Minister Elias Bou Saab and the Cabinet who backed his decision are the ones responsible for issuing the certificates,” UCC’s statement said.
The UCC’s decision came after a disagreement appeared between the teachers on whether they should go back on the decision of boycotting exams to prevent the controversial issuance of passing certificates from going into effect.
Parliament's Education Committee had recommended earlier in the day that lawmakers draft a law to legalize the passing certificates issued by the Education Ministry, stressing that the decision to issue the certificates was final regardless of any change of heart by teachers boycotting the correction of exams.
The announcement came after the committee, headed by Future MP Bahia Hariri, met around 10:30 a.m. at Nijmeh Square to agree on formulating a draft law to present to Parliament for a vote.
Although the committee’s members expressed support for the discussion and passing of the wage hike in the next Parliament session, they backed Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s insistence on issuing passing certificates for all Grade 9 and 12 students who sat for official exams.
An Education Ministry source told The Daily Star that the passing certificates would be given not only to students who took the official exams but to all candidates who had applied for them.
The candidacy card, a document given to the students allowing them to attend the exams, would be enough to ensure they passed, even if they did not attend. While most students applying to university would have attended the exams, there are a number of applicants each year who do not show up, including employed candidates who had dropped out or failed to pass in previous years.
Separately, the Education Committee also tasked Bou Saab with contacting the head of the Lebanese University to recommend requiring entrance exams for all its faculties.
According to the committee’s recommendation, any student with a passing certificate who wishes to enter LU for the next academic year should take an entrance exam.
Only few of LU’s faculties have required incoming students to take entrance tests in previous years. However, the education minister’s decision to give passing certificates to all Grade 12 students means that even those who might have failed the official exams will be eligible for admission, making it necessary to filter the numbers, especially for LU.
Speaking before the start of the meeting, Bou Saab said the decision to issue passing certificates had already gone into effect and the draft law "would retroactively legalize them."
Bou Saab refused to budge on his decision, which he announced Saturday, even after the Association of Private School Teachers said Monday that it would end its boycott and correct official exams to safeguard "Lebanon's quality of education."
Talking to reporters during a break from the meeting earlier Tuesday, Bou Saab called on the UCC to give up the attempts to find a united position over the correction of exams.
He said he was surprised the UCC was still holding meetings, “because they have already missed the train and the certificates have become an evident fact.”
“Instead, they should discuss how to continue their union work,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement released Tuesday morning, the Representative Council for the Public Administration League called for a strike Thursday “in all ministries, administrations, governorates, qadas and municipalities,” and a protest at 11 a.m. in front of the Economy Ministry in the Azariya building in Downtown Beirut.
The league said the move was to protest to “procrastination in passing the ranks and salary scale” and in “condemnation of the decision to give illegitimate passing certificates instead of passing the scale.”
They called on the lawmakers to “take responsibility and go down to the Parliament and perform their legislative tasks” and to pass the wage hike without any reductions or installment.
In a bid to pressure Parliament to approve a new salary scale, teachers had refused to grade the official exams, prompting Bou Saab, backed by the Cabinet and various political blocs, to issue the passing certificates, a move not made since the end of Lebanon's Civil War in 1990.
For the past three years, the UCC has spearheaded ongoing nationwide protests and observed open-ended strikes calling for the legislation of the pay rise. However, the Parliament, which extended its mandate for 17 months in May 2013 and is likely to extend it again this month, has failed to enact the long-awaited draft law.

Graduates downbeat about prospects
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A recent survey showed that most new university graduates in Lebanon are not optimistic about finding jobs in the country. According to the survey, which was carried out by regional job portal and market research agency YouGov, 83 percent of recent graduates in Lebanon considered the availability of jobs in their country to be “low,” compared to 60 percent of recent graduates overall in the 13 Arab countries in which the survey was carried out. According to the World Bank, unemployment among Lebanese youths is over 25 percent, and this figure is expected to grow as a result of the presence of more than a million Syrian refugees. According to the survey, the share of respondents in Lebanon who considered the availability of jobs in their country to be ‘low’ is the third highest among the 13 surveyed Arab countries. The only countries in which it was lower were Tunisia (87 percent of new graduates) and Jordan (85 percent of new graduates).  Thirteen percent of recent Lebanese graduates said that the availability of jobs in Lebanon was ‘moderate’ and none of them considered the availability of jobs in the country to be ‘high.’ The survey covered a sample of 1,586 adults aged 18 years or older in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the UAE. The survey was conducted online between May 26 and June 26, 2014, and covered a sample of 115 respondents in Lebanon. “Further, 23 percent of fresh graduates in Lebanon expected to need less than three months to land their first employment or required three months or less to find their first job,” said Lebanon This Week, a publication produced by the Byblos Bank Group. Sixteen percent of those surveyed in this country anticipated that they would need between three and six months to get their first job or had needed between three and six months to get their first job; 17 percent expected to need or had needed between six and 12 months; while 13 percent of respondents expected to need or had needed more than a year. Five percent of respondents in Lebanon expected to land or had landed their first job directly through campus placements. According to the survey, the most common routes to finding a job in Lebanon are online job sites, through family and friends, and direct applications to target companies. Recent graduates in Lebanon said that their lack of experience was the main challenge they faced when searching for a job, followed by identifying where the employment opportunities existed, developing good interviewing skills, approaching the job search effectively and learning how to apply to relevant jobs. Twenty-nine percent of recent graduates in Lebanon said that they had received or expected to receive a monthly salary of between $751 and $1,000 in their first job, while 25 percent of respondents had obtained or expected to obtain a monthly pay of $1,001 to $1,500.

Hezbollah kills suicide bombing plotter: activists
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah has killed an ISIS commander allegedly responsible for preparing suicide bombers for attacks in Lebanon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday.
The activist group reported that a roadside bomb killed Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi when his vehicle passed through Syria’s Qalamoun region, an area bordering Lebanon where Hezbollah is assisting Syrian troops in rooting out rebels. The bombing also killed three other jihadists. Iraqi was responsible for the suicide attacks that targeted Lebanese areas where Hezbollah enjoyed broad support, the Observatory said. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reported early Tuesday that Iraqi, who was in charge of training suicide bombers and rigging vehicles with explosives, was killed in a Syrian army operation in Qalamoun.
Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is close to Hezbollah, said Iraqi was killed in a joint operation recently carried out by Hezbollah and the Syrian army. The daily said Iraqi had been the ISIS commander in Qalamoun. He was responsible, in addition to training suicide bombers, for a number of car bombings that targeted Lebanese civilians in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the Bekaa Valley, according to Al-Akhbar. The paper said he had “personally supervised” the purchase of cars from Lebanon before rigging them with explosives in Qalmoun and sending them back to Lebanon to be detonated.
Iraqi had fled Yabroud with a group of loyalists in March after Hezbollah and Syrian government forces recaptured the town, a major rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border, Al-Akhbar said.
It said Hezbollah had kept a close watch on him until they were able to kill him along with his group.

Who are Iraqi Kurdistan’s ’Peshmergettes?’
By Salma el-Shahed | Al Arabiya News
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
As Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants continue to wreak havoc across northern Iraq, many Kurds are highly concerned and angry because of their gruesome activities, including female members of Kurdistan’s army, the Peshmerga. In light of recent ISIS violence against minorities and women, Kurdish female fighters within the Peshmerga Force for Women have been asking their commanders to send them to the frontline to help combat the extremists, the BBC reported. The existence of these female troops is an “affirmation that women in Kurdistan should be full members of society and not be hidden behind closed doors,” Dr. Joseph Kéchichian, an American scholar who specializes in Gulf and Iraqi affairs, told Al Arabiya News.
“Kurdish men and women have seldom shied away from serving their military duties,” he said. “We are now on the battlefield, but I'm married and I have a daughter, whom I left with my parents to fight against extremists. I'm happy to perform my national duty to defend Kurdistan,” Chelan Shakhwan a fighter in the Peshmerga female regiment, told al-Monitor news website.
In the BBC report, the women are seen chanting about martyrdom while protecting their country.
“The reasons we want to fight ISIS is first, to defend our country, and secondly, to defend women, because in Mosul, ISIS attacked a lot of women,” one of the women told BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil.
A history of the Peshmergettes
Female Peshmerga fighters are not a novelty, according to Kéchichian. “Saladin, one of the most famous Muslim leaders of all time, was a Kurd, he had women fighting along his side,” he said in a telephone interview. Additionally, a paper published by Florida State University in 2005 said women have been fighting alongside their fellow countrymen since the 1700s.
Following the Kurdish Civil War of the 1990s, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan started recruiting female Peshmerga in 1996, making them the first party in Iraq to include women in their military forces.
The Peshmerga Force for Women was first established with the enrollment of 11 women by the PUK. “Since the beginning of their training in 1996, women Peshmerga saw their instruction expand, learning not only military tactics and strategy but also math, computer science, and history,” the paper explained. Today, more than 500 women are part of the Peshmerga and although they are yet to face ISIS, they have gone through military excercises under Sulaymaniyah’s burning sun to prepare themselves for any surprise attacks, as reported in the New York Post.  “The formation of a female battalion is the Peshmerga organizing its various military resources,” Kéchichian said. Kéchichian also found irony in female soldiers facing ISIS, as both sides are Sunni, the “Peshmerga is showing that you can be both Muslim and moderate,” as opposed to the extremist version of Sunni-Islam practiced by ISIS militants.

‘ISIS is enemy No. 1 of Islam,’ says Saudi grand mufti
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda were blasted by Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh on Tuesday as "enemy number one" of Islam. "The ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism ... have nothing to do with Islam and (their proponents) are the enemy number one of Islam," the kingdom's top cleric said in a statement He cited militants from ISIS, which has declared a "caliphate" straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, and the global al-Qaeda terror network. Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) to help combat terrorism. “Terrorism is an evil that must be eradicated from the world through international efforts,” Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir said during a ceremony at the United Nations in the presence of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The [UNCCT] is the only center in the world that has the legitimacy to combat terrorism,” added al-Jubeir.
Jubeir was joined by Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.N. Abdullah Al-Mouallimi who said that the UNCCT combats the kind of thinking “that stands behind terrorism.”The United States, Germany and Britain have also donated to help run the U.N. center. ISIS has seized large parts of Iraq and drawn the first American air strikes since the end of the U.S.-led occupation in 2011. On Monday, ISIS warned the United States it will attack Americans “in any place” if the raids hit its militants. The video, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and victims of snipers, featured a statement which said in English “we will drown all of you in blood.”[With AFP]

Jihadist Islamic State has 50,000 members in Syria: NGO
Agence France Presse/BEIRUT: The jihadist Islamic State has more that 50,000 fighters in Syria and recruited 6,000 last month alone, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday. The group, which relies on activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground in Syria for its reporting, said July saw the Islamic State's largest recruitment yet. "The number of IS fighters has passed 50,000 in Syria, including 20,000 non-Syrians," the group's director Rami Abdel Rahman said. "July saw the largest recruitment since the group appeared in Syria in 2013, with more than 6,000 new fighters," he said. There was no way to independently confirm the figures. Abdel Rahman said the new recruits in July included more than 1,000 foreign fighters from Chechnya, Europe and Arab countries, as well as Chinese Muslims. He said most had entered Syria from Turkey. Other recruits included defectors from the ranks of other armed opposition groups, including 200 from the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra Front. The Islamic State grew out of Al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch, but has since parted ways with the group. It initially cooperated with some of the armed opposition in Syria, but its abuses against rival rebels and civilians sparked a backlash that began this January.

Jomaa's Attorney Requests Delay in Client's Interrogation to Submit Pleas
Naharnet/Imad Ahmed Jomaa, a detained member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, did not appear at the Military Court on Tuesday at the request of his attorney, Tareq Shandab, reported LBCI television. The suspect was supposed to appear before Military Examining Magistrate Imad al-Zein to be interrogated, but Shandab requested a delay in order for him to submit pleas before the court.
Jomaa was arrested on August 2, prompting clashes between the army and Islamist gunmen in the northeastern border town of Arsal. Nineteen soldiers were killed in the unrest that ended on August 7. Judicial sources told LBCI that Jomaa had confessed during preliminary investigations that he was undergoing the final phase of training to spark Sunni-Shiite strife through taking over Arsal, which would be used as a base to attack the army and Shiite towns. State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Thursday 43 Syrians, including Jomaa, for belonging to armed terrorist groups.
They have also been charged with seeking to carry out terrorist attacks, seizing control of Lebanese territories in order to set up their own emirate, killing soldiers and civilians, sabotaging military vehicles, and damaging public and private property. The suspects may face the death penalty if convicted. Jomaa hails form the Syrian border town of Qusayr and has confessed upon his arrest to belonging to the al-Qaida-inspired al-Nusra Front. The terrorist suspect is known to be a prominent figure of armed Islamic organizations, and he led the Fajr al-Islam brigade that fought in al-Qusayr in later in Syria's Qalamoun. According to a Syrian activist who resides in Arsal, Jomaa worked closely with al-Nusra Front and small military groups of the Syrian opposition, particularly in the Qusayr battles.
Jomaa frequently traveled inside Lebanon's Bekaa region and its plains where he provided support for gunmen in the area, the same source said.

Cabinet Calls on Electoral Bodies to Begin Preparing for Parliamentary Polls
Naharnet/Cabinet on Tuesday approved a decree calling on electoral committees to begin preparing for the parliamentary elections. The decree will be published in the official gazette as soon as possible. The cabinet had held an extraordinary session, chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, at the Grand Serail. Political powers have been debating recently the possibility of extending the term of the current parliament given the ongoing vacuum in the presidency and their failure to agree on a new electoral law. A number of politicians have voiced their opposition to the extension, while others have advocated it. Speaker Nabih Berri had repeatedly declared that he is opposed to the extension. He tasked recently Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq with taking all the necessary measures to hold the polls, including sending today's approved decree to cabinet. The minister had in turn stated over the weekend that he had “completed all of his duties to that end.” According to article 44 of the elections law, the decree should be signed by 24 ministers in accordance with the mechanism adopted by cabinet. Those objecting to it have 90 days to do so before the elections date. The polls are scheduled for November 16. Lebanon will enter on August 20 a deadline to agree on a new electoral law ahead of the elections. Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush proposed on Tuesday a draft-law for extending parliament's term by more than two years, citing security reasons. Last year, the parliament extended its mandate to November 2014 for the same reasons and over a disagreement over a new electoral law.

SCC Announces Thursday General Strike, Studying Lawsuit to Halt Passing Statements
Naharnet /The Syndicate Coordination Committee announced on Tuesday a general strike that will take place on Thursday, in response to the Minister of Education's decision to issue passing statements to students who applied for official exams, declaring also that it is studying the possibility of filing a lawsuit to halt the minister's step. The SCC revealed as well after its Tuesday meeting that it had considered withdrawing its decision to boycott the correction of official exams, before the parliament's education committee convened to legalize issuing passing statements.
"Delegates were studying means to salvage official exams... some committees were ready to correct exams and others were not...but the parliament's education committee's decision closed all doors and united the SCC's stance in this regard,” the SCC said after the meeting. SCC members explained that boycotting official exam correction was a result of the Minister of Education's request. “It was announced from his office. He asked us to supervise exams and boycott correction and he vowed that he will not force the SCC (to correct exams) or issue passing statements,” they noted.
“The Minister of Education and the entire cabinet are held responsible for granting passing statements to students.”The education committee convened earlier in the day and announced that it will not withdraw Education Minister Elias Bou Saab's decision to grant Grade 9 and Grade 12 students passing statements, which will allow them to carry on with their education amid the SCC's boycott of official exam correction. Bou Saab assured during the meeting that the decision to issue passing statements “has gone into effect and will not be withdrawn.”
"I am only taking into consideration the interest of students,” he expressed. But the SCC stressed that it will exert all efforts to “salvage official exams and secure rights.”"The battle is ongoing against politicians... They are held responsible because they paralyzed all state institutions and we tell them that 'you disagree in politics but you all agree on abusing our rights and on harming the SCC and official exams.'” The Committee's members then announced a general strike at all ministries and public administrations on Thursday, and a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Economy as of 11:00 am.
The Committee also revealed during the press conference that followed its meeting that it is studying the possibility of filing a lawsuit, in cooperation with former minister Ziad Baroud, to stop Bou Saab's decision on the passing statements. SCC members, however, vowed that the 2014-2015 academic year will kick off normally on September 1, 2014. On the contentious new wage scale whose impasse was reflected in the official exam crisis, the SCC considered that “no parliamentary session will discuss the wage hike. “But it will try to increase the VAT by 1%. This would mobilize the public opinion against the SCC,” they remarked.

‘ISIS is enemy No. 1 of Islam,’ says Saudi grand mufti
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda were blasted by Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh on Tuesday as "enemy number one" of Islam. "The ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism ... have nothing to do with Islam and (their proponents) are the enemy number one of Islam," the kingdom's top cleric said in a statement He cited militants from ISIS, which has declared a "caliphate" straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, and the global al-Qaeda terror network. Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) to help combat terrorism. “Terrorism is an evil that must be eradicated from the world through international efforts,” Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir said during a ceremony at the United Nations in the presence of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The [UNCCT] is the only center in the world that has the legitimacy to combat terrorism,” added al-Jubeir.
Jubeir was joined by Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.N. Abdullah Al-Mouallimi who said that the UNCCT combats the kind of thinking “that stands behind terrorism.” The United States, Germany and Britain have also donated to help run the U.N. center. ISIS has seized large parts of Iraq and drawn the first American air strikes since the end of the U.S.-led occupation in 2011. On Monday, ISIS warned the United States it will attack Americans “in any place” if the raids hit its militants. The video, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and victims of snipers, featured a statement which said in English “we will drown all of you in blood.”
[With AFP]

ISIS on Film: Swords, deaths and clichés

Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Diana Moukalled/Al Arabiya
Rafiq Abu-Moussab, media officer of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), rose suddenly when he heard a question about his private life and family. He removed his shades and replied with a stern stare: “I do not do entertainment at all; I do not go out at all. Family, pardon the expression, is the least concern, as there are more important issues; if we spent time with the family, no one would defend the honor of Muslims.” On a similar question about the place of personal life in the day of an ISIS member, Abu-Moussab replied: “We do not like the happy life and picnics, because they distract us from God.”
These answers gave an insight into the way of life and the thinking of those armed men who have shocked the world, and continue to do so, by repeatedly airing videos of beheadings when their barbarism is let loose. In an unprecedented documentary, ISIS leaders allowed a television crew from Vice News to enter the areas under their control in the Syrian province of Raqqa for two weeks to make a film about the killings they carried out. The film also showed how the group controlled the lives of residents with their “hisbah” patrols, and ISIS even allowed the team to film prisons that the group ran.
This film, which has spread widely less than one week, was carefully made. A film like this cannot be shot without the consent of the power in charge on the ground, which in this case was ISIS. Any attempts made to film outside the area permitted by the group would have meant a quick death.
“The death and destruction is but one of the signs of the deterioration of Arab societies”
The importance of this work lies in showing both the personalities and what life is like under murderers whose barbarism has shocked the world, and who have spread with a speed that is still not understood.
All those ISIS members who spoke on camera were not Syrians. Their dialects were mostly from the Gulf and the Maghreb, and some were members of the Arab diaspora in Europe.
A 50-year-old man appeared in a scene showing an evening gathering in a Raqqa square, chanting with those around him: “The virgins in the heavens are calling, list me for martyrdom.” He addresses the camera, saying he had lived in Europe for 25 years yet had traveled to the new so-called Islamic Caliphate, leaving behind “a beautiful wife and children, [coming instead] to jihad and peace of mind.”
In fact, all those members of the group shown in the film are examples of the sick societies which produced them. Even those who lived in Europe did not escape the heavy legacies which they took with them from their countries and societies.
The people in the film repeated the same tired phrases that have been heard again and again over the last three decades, tired clichés about infidels targeting Muslims, clichés repeated by angry, ruthless youths who have let their beards and hair grow, and show off their guns and swords, teaching their children hatred of others and training them to kill.
The issue is so complicated that it cannot be attributed just to violent religious discourse. If this discourse is the sole source the militants draw on, then what we see in the resulting death and destruction is but one of the signs of the deterioration of Arab societies. Many in this film were most probably born in countries crises and conflicts.
The waves of Takfirists (apostatists) have been coming for three decades, to the extent that we are now facing what is the fourth generation. Wars on terrorism have been launched with varying degrees of success, but they have not eradicated its root causes. It is time for a different approach. It is time we asked ourselves hard questions, because what was shown in this film, and the fact that this kind of murder and violence has become commonplace in some places, will not be destroyed by fighter jets.

Cairo draft accord may embody Israeli concessions on security in return for Hamas truce

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 19, 2014/debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that the Egyptian-brokered draft deal Israeli and Hamas delegates inked in Cairo Monday night, Aug. 18, contained, in return for a Hamas commitment to withhold rocket fire on the Israeli population for an extended, though unspecified, period, a number of Israeli concessions and waivers. They are subject to endorsement by the Israeli security cabinet, which does not convene until Tuesday. The Egyptian foreign ministry later Monday announced that the two parties had agreed to extend the Gaza truce for 24 hours “to complete negotiations.”
These provisions of this draft, according to Egyptian sources - though not confirmed by Israeli officials - are disclosed here for the first time:
1. Palestinian fishing rights are extended from 3 to 12 miles.
2. Israel will restore the Gaza Strip’s electrical power capacity within a year.
3. The Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah will oversee and administer all the rehabilitation operations to be performed in the Gaza Strip.
4. An international mechanism will be formed to monitor the building materials delivered to Gaza.
5. Israel will lift its financial restrictions on Gaza’s banks.
6. Israel and Hamas will begin discussing the building of a deep sea port and international airport for the Gaza Strip in a month’s time.
7. They will also embark on parallel negotiations for the release of Palestinians in Israeli security prisons.
8. An extension of the truce and cessation of hostilities between the two parties will take place.
debkafile’s sources report an attempt by some Israeli officials to present the draft as incorporating a process which separates the humanitarian and security issues.
However, it may be that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon are looking for a pretext to explain the concessions that were made for the sake of a ceasefire for an indefinite period – or else they are trying to ward off Egyptian-Palestinian browbeating for a deal.
According to the disclosures so far, the draft agreement – if it is approved by the cabinet – will embody four major Israeli concessions:
--- Waiving demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and disarmament of Hamas’s rockets and terror tunnels at this point.
--- Lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip - economically and by the establishment of ports.
--- Reversal of a government decision to abstain from negotiating the release of convicted Palestinian terrorists from jail, which the Israeli public will never accept.
--- Rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip before any steps are taken towards disarming Hamas.
The danger of this waiver is already apparent in the announcement by the radical Popular Committees faction that it is not bound by any Hamas commitment to suspend rocket attacks. In any case, according to a Egyptian foreign ministry statement late Monday: Israel and the Palestinians have only agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire extension – i.e., until Tuesday midnight, for further negotiations.

Lessons of the War in Gaza
By Daniel Pipes/National Review Online
As Israeli operations against Hamas wind down, here are seven insights into the month-long conflict:
Missile shield: The superb performance of Iron Dome, the protective system that shot down nearly every Hamas rocket threatening life or property, has major military implications for Israel and the world. Its success signals that "Star Wars" (as opponents maliciously dubbed it upon introduction in 1983) can indeed provide protection from short-range and also presumably from long-range rockets and missiles, potentially changing the future of warfare.
Tunnels: Tunneling behind enemy lines is hardly a new tactic; historically, it has had success, such as the 1917 Battle of Messines, when British mines killed 10,000 German soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) knew of Hamas' tunnels before hostilities began on July 8 but failed to appreciate their numbers, length, depth, quality of construction, and electronic sophistication. Jerusalem quickly realized, as the Times of Israel wrote, that "Israel's air, sea and land supremacy is not mirrored underground." The IDF thus requires additional time to achieve subterranean dominance.
Consensus in Israel: Hamas' unrelenting barbarism created a rare consensus among Jewish Israelis in favor of victory. This near unanimity both strengthens the government's hand in dealing with outside powers (Prime Minister Netanyahu admonished the U.S. administration never again to second-guess him) and is likely to move Israeli domestic politics decisively to the right into the nationalist camp.
Middle Eastern response: With the exception of Hamas' state patrons (Turkey, Qatar, Iran), the Islamist terrorists found almost no governmental support in the region. In one striking example, Saudi king Abdullah said of Hamas killing Gazans, "It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are [mutilating the bodies of innocents and proudly publicizing their actions] in the name of religion." How well he knows his mortal enemy.
Rising antisemitism: Especially in Europe but also in Canada and Australia, antisemitism came to the fore, mainly from Palestinians and Islamists as well as from their far-left allies. This response will, in all probability, increase immigration to the two havens of Jewish life, Israel and the United States. By contrast, Middle East Muslims kept quiet, with the exception of Turks and those Arabs living under Israeli control.
Elite vs. popular responses: It's not every day that the secretary-general of the United Nations and all 28 foreign ministers of the European Union side with Israel against an Arab enemy, but that did occur. In the U.S. congress, the Senate unanimously approved and the House voted 395-8 in favor of an additional $225 million for the Iron Dome program. In contrast, among the wider public, pro-Israel sentiment declined almost everywhere (although not in the United States). How to explain this disparity? My hunch: Leaders imagine what they would do if faced with enemy rockets and tunnels, while the public focuses on photographs of dead babies in Gaza.
Trucks with food, medicines, and other provisions going from Israel to Gaza at the Kerem Shalom crossing during the hostilities.
Dead babies: Which brings us to the most complex, counterintuitive, and strange aspect of the entire conflict. Because the IDF enjoys a crushing advantage over Hamas on the battlefield, their confrontation resembled a police operation more than a war. Thus, Israelis were judged primarily by the clarity of their leaders' public statements, the judicious use of force, and the handling of evidence. Accordingly, media attention invariably drifted from the military sphere to questions of proportionality, morality, and politics. Hamas' greatest strategic weapon in its effort to damage Israel's reputation and ostracize it was neither rockets nor tunnels but wrenching photographs of dead civilians purportedly killed by the IDF.
This leads to the bizarre situation in which Hamas seeks the destruction of Palestinian property, compels civilians to sustain injuries and death, inflates casualty figures, and may even intentionally attack its own territory – while the IDF takes gratuitous fatalities to spare harm to Palestinians. The Israeli government goes further, providing medical care and food and sending technicians into harm's way to make sure that Gazans continue to enjoy free electricity.
It's a curious war in which Hamas celebrates Palestinian misery and Israel does its best to keep life normal for its enemy. Strange, indeed, but this is the nature of modern warfare, where opeds often count for more than bullets. In Clausewitzian terms, war's center of gravity has moved from the battlefield to public relations.
In all, the civilized and moral forces of Israel came off well in this face-off with barbarism. But not well enough to forestall, for too long, yet another assault.
Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum.