August 22/14


Bible Quotation for today/who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Luke 12/8-12: "I tell you, everyone who confesses me before men, him will the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God; but he who denies me in the presence of men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God. Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, don’t be anxious how or what you will answer, or what you will say;  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what you must say.”


Pope Francis's Tweet For Today

Let us ask the Lord for this grace: that our hearts become free and filled with light, so that we can rejoice as children

of God.

Pape François ‏ 

Demandons au Seigneur cette grâce : que notre cœur devienne libre et lumineux, pour goûter la joie des enfants de Dieu !


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 21 & 22/14

Why ISIS killed James Foley/By: Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/August 22/14

Assad’s ISIS Gambit /By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Alawsat/August 22/14

Confronting ISIS and Religious Homogenization/By: Hamad Al-Majid/Asharq Alawsat/August 22/14

Tell Sisi!’ Egypt’s messages are loud and clear/By: Abdel Latif el-Menawy/Al Arabiya/August  22/14

One year after Ghouta massacre, ISIS’ evil has clouded Assad’s/By: Brooklyn Middleton/Al Arabiya/August 22/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 21 & 22/14

Hezbollah condemns Foley beheading as ISIS savagery

Muslim scholars might suspend hostage mediation

Lebanon army arrests Arab-Israeli infiltrator
Cabinet passes trash off to committee
Tripoli militia leader released from Roumieh prison
FPM submits bill for direct presidential election
Change and Reform Proposes Constitutional Amendment on Direct Elections

Israeli Troops Search Wazzani Area, Erect Earth Mounds

Jumblat Accepts Technical Extension of Parliament Term, Urges Rivals to 'Learn from Past'

Hizbullah Agrees to Meet al-Rahi, Says Contacts Ongoing

Mashnouq Denies Foreign Mediation on Arsal Captives as Jihadists Set Deadline

Syrian Arrested in Barja for Slaughtering Niece

Lebanon Govt. Relieves Syrians Seeking to Leave Lebanon of Residency


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 21 & 22/14

Iraq: Maliki urges Abadi to reject Sunni and Kurdish preconditions

US forces tried but failed to rescue American hostages in Syria

UK Foreign Secretary: journalist was killed by British national

Former ISIS hostage identifies Foley executioner

Indonesia president: ISIS is ‘embarrassing’
6 Facts About Iraq That Obama Has Glossed Over But You Need to KnowWall St. Cheat Sheet

Hammering Hamas chiefs with pinpointed intelligence is Israel's new war focus. Ministers in mutiny

Israel broke the ceasefire: Hamas deputy leader

Iron Dome intercepts rocket near Modi'in

Gaza fighting rages with no end in sight
What does Israel want?

Hamas officers boast of tunnels' success

Mashal: No talks until Israel accepts demands

Yemeni Houthis call for government resignation as deadline approaches

Palestinian negotiator say Gaza talks “temporarily suspended”

New Egyptian political alliance defies labels, says leader

Khalifa Haftar: Rebuilding Libya from the Top Down
Qatar: Foley beheading ‘crime’ against Islam’s principles

Kuwait releases detained cleric suspected of financing militants
HRW: Justice elusive for Syria chemical attack victims
UAE toughens anti-terrorism laws 

Muslim scholars might suspend hostage mediation
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Committee of Muslim Scholars hinted Thursday that it might suspend its mediation in the ongoing negotiations to free missing military and security personnel believed held by jihadists, pending the government’s response to the captors’ demands. Committee member Adnan Amama said the scholars were waiting for Lebanon’s official answer to the demands put forward by the militants from Syria’s Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) to free the captives seized during clashes in the border town of Arsal in early August.
“We are still awaiting an answer from the government. Depending on the response, we will decide whether to continue with our mediation initiative or suspend it, thus opening the way for other possible parties to intervene,” Amama told The Daily Star. The groups have delivered a list of their demands, reportedly including the release of Islamist prisoners from Lebanon's Roumieh prison and improved treatment of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. However, LBCI reported Wednesday that the gunmen would release the men if Hezbollah withdrew from Syria.
Nineteen Lebanese Army soldiers and 14 members of the Internal Security Forces went missing after the Arsal clashes earlier this month and are believed to be held by the Nusra Front and ISIS.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in remarks published Thursday that Lebanon was working to free the kidnapped soldiers and policemen without the help of a foreign mediator.
"Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is not heading negotiations or contacts with any regional or Arab country for the case of the kidnapped soldiers,” Machnouk told Al-Akhbar newspaper. "Such a task would require ... a government decision.”The minister refused to comment on the ongoing negotiations to free the soldiers and security forces who were kidnapped by militants during the Arsal clashes that pitted Lebanese Army troops against gunmen from Syria. Machnouk’s remarks refute those of Kataeb Party head Amine Gemayel, who said last week that Lebanon had requested the help of some Arab countries but that the latter refused, and other media reports. In cooperation with Ibrahim, Qatar played a crucial role in last year's release of nine Lebanese who were taken hostage by Syrian rebel groups in Syria. The men were released a year and a half after their abduction. Qatar and Lebanon also mediated the release of 13 nuns and their three housemaids taken hostage in the Syrian village of Maaloula in a swap deal for 150 mostly female inmates in Syria prisons.

Lebanon army arrests Arab-Israeli infiltrator
AFP, Hasbaya/Thursday, 21 August 2014
The Lebanese army has arrested an Arab-Israeli civilian who cut through barbed wire to cross the border into Lebanon, a security official said on Thursday. "Ibrahim Zaydat entered Lebanon on Wednesday afternoon after cutting through a small section of barbed wire at the southeastern border, and was arrested by the army," the official told AFP. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said it still was not clear why Zaydat had entered Lebanon. U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon have asked for him to be released at the request of the Israeli military command, the source said. Lebanese authorities are questioning Zaydat and will announce later if they will release him or not, the source added. It is rare for an Israeli civilian to cross into Lebanon. Lebanese shepherds who stray close to the border with Israel are frequently stopped for questioning by the Israeli army but later released.

Former ISIS hostage identifies Foley executioner
By Staff writer | Al Arabiy News
Thursday, 21 August 2014
The English jihadist who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in a gruesome video on Tuesday has been identified as a Londoner named “John,” The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
A former hostage who been guarded by “John” suggested that Foley’s executioner is one of three British militants purportedly responsible for guarding foreign hostages in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, a stronghold for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group. According to the newspaper, “John” was allegedly the main negotiator earlier this year in mediations that led to the release of 11 foreign hostages that were then handed to the Turkish authorities and dispatched to their respective countries, reported the newspaper.
The Beatles
“John” is described by The Telegraph as an intelligent and well-educated man who is “highly committed” to ISIS. Sources told the newspaper that “John” and his fellow hostage guards have been named “The Beatles,” in reference to the popular English pop band. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who broke off his holiday after the video’s release, said it was “increasingly likely” that the ISIS militants who appeared in the video are British, but added that UK police is still trying to identify the killer, the BBC reported on Wednesday. Richard Barrett, the former chief for UK spy agency MI6 said the militant will be identified and the elite Special Air Service (SAS) will be sent to Syria to “bring him to justice,” he told BBC Radio 4. Barrett, who headed the counter-terrorism division for MI6 at the time of 9/11, said he was sure the murderer would be arrested and taken back to Britain for trial “sooner or later.” “I don’t think anyone is prepared to forget this sort of crime and therefore the long arm of justice will eventually catch him.”In the video after Foley's execution, the frame switches to a man identified on screen as Steven Joel Sotloff. He kneels in an orange jumpsuit as the executioner says, “The life of this American prisoner, Obama, depends on your next decision.”ISIS had previously sent a list of demands for the release of the foreign prisoners, some financial and others to exchange prisoners, one fo them being Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with ties to al-Qaeda currently held in Texas, the New York Times reported.
U.S. strikes
The U.S. confirmed the authenticity of the video which ISIS says responds to Obama’s offensive against the militant group. Titled “A Message To America,” the video begins with footage from earlier this month of Obama authorizing military air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. Since the release of the video Tuesday, U.S. air forces have conducted 14 air strikes on ISIS militants near the Mosul Dam in Iraq, AFP reported Wednesday. Looking forward, the U.S. State Department refused ruling out future military operations in Syria. Meanwhile, President Obama confirmed the possibility of sending a small number of U.S. troops to Baghdad. The drones and fighter jets damaged six ISIS Humvees, three sites for improvised explosive devices, one mortar tube and two armed trucks, the Central Command said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Hezbollah condemns Foley beheading as ISIS savagery
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah Thursday condemned the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley, describing the killing as a “savage crime” executed by terrorist groups. Hezbollah cited “financial and military support of terrorist groups,” paired with “political and media protection” and international silence over crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as the main causes behind the “terrible crime.”
A statement was issued by Hezbollah’s news office after a video of Foley's beheading was posted online Tuesday by ISIS militants. In the almost five-minute long video, the group declares that Foley was condemned to death in retaliation for U.S. President Barack Obama's ordering of airstrikes against ISIS positions in northern Iraq. Hezbollah Thursday also condemned an Israeli airstrike on Gaza that killed three senior Hamas commanders from the Qassam Brigade, saying that the assault reinforces the movement towards jihad and liberation. “Past experiences have proven that the killing of the brigade leaders won’t break the will of the resistance; instead it will increase the persistence and force behind the drive towards jihad and liberation,” the Hezbollah statement said.  Hamas, which has control over the Gaza Strip, named the deceased as Mohammad Abu Shamaleh, Raed Attar and Mohammad Barhoum, the three highest-ranking casualties it has announced since Israel began its offensive six weeks ago. The attack was a clear sign of Israel's intention to hit the group's armed leadership after the latest attempts at a cease-fire failed. All three, killed in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah, had led operations against Israel over the past 20 years, Hamas said. Hezbollah expressed condolences to the families of the victims, lauding the martyrs for “sacrificing themselves in resistance to occupation and in defense of their families’ people and nation.” Hezbollah reiterated its condemnation of ongoing Zionist crimes in Gaza, warning that “assaults are escalating brutally among a fatal Arab and international silence.” The lack of international condemnation constituted a “protective umbrella for Zionist terrorism” and covered the continued assault that “targets all forms of life in Palestine,” the statement argued. Following the collapse Tuesday of a 10-day cease-fire, the Israeli military appears to have ramped up its efforts to hit the leadership of Hamas' armed wing. The commanders targeted Thursday were the most senior Hamas men killed since November 2012, when the assassination of military chief Ahmed al-Jabari triggered an eight-day cross-border war. While Israel says it has killed several hundred Hamas militants in the conflict, they have largely been frontline fighters, not the organization's commanders.


FPM submits bill for direct presidential election
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Ten MPs from Michel Aoun's Reform and Change bloc have submitted a draft proposal to amend the Constitution to allow the president to be elected via a popular vote, according to LBCI TV. The TV station quoted Parliament sources as saying that the draft law, which was presented by MP Ibrahim Kanaan, proposed a mechanism for the president to be elected directly by the Lebanese electorate as oppose to via their parliamentary representatives. The draft laws implements a proposal from Free Patriotic Movement leader Aoun, the undeclared presidential candidate of the March 8 coalition, to directly elect the head of state and prevent a presidential vacuum from occurring in the future. Aoun suggested that Christians could vote in a first round, with the top two candidates then facing a vote by the general public. The presidency, which has been vacant since former President Michel Sleiman's term ended May 25, is reserved for a Maronite Christian under the National Pact of 1943 that governs Lebanon's political power-sharing.

Cabinet passes trash off to committee
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon's Cabinet Thursday discussed solid waste treatment for five straight hours without reaching an agreement on how to deal with the pressing issue, instead referring it to a follow-up ministerial committee to propose solutions. Culture Minister Raymond Areiji said Cabinet had agreed to form a follow-up committee under Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, and had decided to continue negotiations on contract extension with Sukleen, the company in charge of garbage collection and street cleaning. Areiji, who left the meeting before it ended, said Sukleen’s contract would be temporarily extended until new tenders are submitted. The Cabinet also decided to pay allowances to villages which agreed to set up in-house garbage dumps, the minister said. Solid waste treatment was the only clause on the Cabinet's agenda Thursday, and earlier ministerial sources had said that the Cabinet had decided to devote time to debating the waste issue, postponing other items on the agenda for another session. However, the meeting was continuing as ministers tackled other issues, ministerial sources said, and as ministers headed into the Cabinet session, they had pledged to address pressing day-to-day issues. “It is an important session because it will address the citizen’s day-to-day issues,” Minister of State Mohammad Fneish, from Hezbollah's bloc, told The Daily Star prior to the meeting. Among the main issues of concern for the Cabinet was that of Lebanese soldiers and policemen captured by Islamist militants during gunbattles in the Bekaa Valley border town of Arsal earlier this month. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said the government was handling the hostage issue with “utmost secrecy,” while Health Minister Wael Abu Faour praised Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s role in the hostage crisis. “The prime minister is earnestly following up on the issue,” Abu Faour told reporters ahead of the Cabinet meeting at the Grand Serail.

Tripoli militia leader released from Roumieh prison
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Abou Taymour al-Dandashi, a militia leader detained for involvement in clashes in Tripoli, has been released from Roumieh prison, a judicial source told The Daily Star. The Military Court issued the decision to release the militia leader Thursday. Dandashi was detained for participating in Tripoli clashes earlier this year, firing gunshots and possessing unlicensed weapons, the judicial source told The Daily Star. He has since been released because the amount of time he has been detained was equivalent to the duration of the sentence that would have been issued against him, had he been prosecuted, the judicial source said. According to Tripoli sources, Dandashi is a leading Salafist militia chief, heading a fifty-strong group in the Riva area of Tripoli. On July 6, Dandashi had issued a demand from jail, broadcast by LBCI, that the Army's security plan be “implemented fairly, not selectively, in Tripoli.”Al Akhbar also reported on an earlier alleged recording of Dandashi in March. “In the recording, Dandashi blasts the city’s [Tripoli’s] political leaders, and even threatens to liquidate them, with the exception of MP Mohammad Kabbara,” Al Akhbar said. Tripoli sources said that rumors are circulating over a possible release of more militants detained during Tripoli clashes, as almost a year has passed since the bombing of Tripoli’s Al-Salam and Al-Taqwa Mosques. The sources also said that officials are fearful that something might happen on the one year anniversary of the twin bombings, with rumors circulating over the possible release of prominent Tripoli militia leader Ziad Alouki. At least 42 people were killed and more than 400 wounded when twin car bomb blasts hit Al-Taqwa Mosque and nearby Al-Salam Mosque on Aug. 23, 2013. The released suspect is among a number of militia leaders who have been detained since security forces, led by the Lebanese Army, began implementing a security plan on April 1 to restore law and order to the restive city. Tripoli has witnessed nearly twenty rounds of violence between the Sunni-dominated Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood and the Jabal Mohsen district populated mostly by Alawites, leaving hundreds of casualties and scores wounded over the past three years.

Assad’s ISIS Gambit
By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 21 Aug, 2014

When one sees Bashar Al-Assad’s media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban speaking on CNN regarding the danger represented by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), one can feel only a sense of unease. How can she speak about the threat of ISIS when she represents a regime that is no less dangerous or criminal?
The strangest thing is that while on CNN, Shaaban spoke of the danger ISIS represents to the whole region, while the facts on the ground indicate that ISIS emerged and grew under the Assad regime. Its leaders sprung from Syrian prisons, while Syrian military forces have yet to successfully attack them on the ground, even after the Americans have taken action against ISIS fighters in Iraq. It is clear today that Assad believes the time is ripe to exploit ISIS’s presence and present himself as the victim of extremism and extremists. It is clear that this has been among Assad’s tactics from the start of the revolution, and explains his troops’ lack of real action against ISIS until now. This is something that even the international news agencies have noticed. A recent Reuters report said: “Until this summer, Assad’s forces held off from targeting [ISIS] . . . This has allowed the group to thrive and also weaken less hardline opposition groups that are backed by the West.” This is truly what Assad did, and he is now trying to use the international fear of ISIS for his own ends.
The attempt to exploit a threat to serve one’s own interests is a policy that the Assad regime has long often resorted to, not just in Syria but also in Lebanon and Iraq, and is a strategy that Assad has pursued with other extremist Islamist groups. Isn’t it true that Al-Qaeda fighters were able to enter Iraq through the Syria border? What about the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and the case of Abu Adas, an alleged suicide bomber who initially claimed responsibility for the 2004 assassination of Hariri, before it was revealed that he had been forced to make the video-taped confession?
These previous examples of Assad’s tricks show that he is trying to recreate them today in Syria. It is clear that Assad wanted to turn the tables on the Americans, particularly after Washington warned that Syria had become a gathering place for extremists and militants. Either the extremist groups would fight it out among themselves, or they would be easier to target, according to the American way of thinking. It seems that Assad adopted this idea for his own purposes, allowing ISIS to fight the Al-Nusra Front while concentrating his own forces against the Free Syrian Army, clamping down on his opponents and attempting to polish his image in front of the eyes of the world.
Assad calculated that as a result of this, his enemies would destroy themselves, or he would be able to take advantage of the major political shifts that are taking place in the region to overcome his opponents with the help of international backing. This is precisely what Bashar Al-Assad is seeking to do today, but this can only be achieved if the international community naively permits it to happen.

Confronting ISIS and Religious Homogenization
By: Hamad Al-Majid/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 21 Aug, 2014

It is almost as if Iran and its Shi’ite religious establishment are rubbing their hands in glee at the prevailing discourse taking place in the world today, a discourse which holds “Wahhabism” responsible for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its terrorist acts.
I personally had not expected the intellectual rivalry among our scholars and intellectuals to reach this level of ideological division. Some of our intellectuals would like to tell us that religions, like ideology and political systems, are open to negotiation, interpretation, change and revision, and sometimes need to be completely overhauled because what is suitable for a certain era is not suitable for another.
These people view Islamic scholar Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab, the founder of “Wahhabism,” as an innovator for introducing new ideas. However, they have confused fiqh (jurisprudence), which can be modified and changed, with fixed and established religious doctrines. For them, the boundaries between what is changeable in religion and what is immutable have become increasingly blurred.
I personally challenge those who promote this bid’ah (innovation) that seeks to cancel all that went before. This ideology claims that we are not obliged to follow the decrees and approach put forward by religious scholars and imams and should only follow the guidelines set forth in the Qur’an and Sunnah. They claim that everything that came after the Prophet is null and void, including the first caliphs of Islam, the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, the Ottoman caliphate, as well as the various incarnations of the Saudi state.
Some of these intellectuals, in the name of fighting ISIS and terrorism, want belief to remain limited to faith that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God, as put forward in the shahada. After that, they are not concerned with the details of jurisprudence or legislation.
Here, I am not talking about the religious scholars who refer to renowned Islamist scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim, and Ibn Abd Al-Wahab. Their ideology and madhabs (Islamic legal schools of thought) are based on correct interpretation of the Qur’an and Hadith. Rather, I am talking about the intellectuals who, in the name of combating ISIS and terrorism, want the state to give up the application of Islamic Shari’a law. They believe that it is all or nothing; and so there should be no Shari’a punishments, no promoting virtue and preventing vice, no restrictions on alcohol and gambling. They believe that all these issues are personal matters that have nothing to do with religion or the ruler.
They want, in the name of fighting ISIS and terrorism, to liberalize anything and everything across the Islamic world, despite the fact that some of these restrictions represent the few things that all Muslims can agree on. They want, in the name of fighting ISIS and terrorism, to forcibly remove the differences between all sects, so there are no Sunnis or Shi’ites, no Salafists or Sufis, no Hanafis or Hanbalis. In their eyes, all the wealth of religious books and scholarship is worthless because religion is the same, the Prophet is the same, and each Muslim should worship God as they see fit.
However these intellects forget that doctrinal and religious affiliation is a universal way of life, and this is confirmed by the Qur’an itself: “And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ.” (Surat Hud 11. 118).
Religious belief does not force one to fight and kill those who believe in something else. Such practices cannot be blamed on religion itself, but rather those who are responsible for this and claim to be religious. Moreover, religious scholarship is, like any other form of expertise or scholarship, not open to all. Only those who are qualified have the right to put forward their views. Would you allow a farmer to hold forth on astrophysics? But on the subject of religion, it is as if there are no boundaries; everyone acts like an expert.
The war on ISIS, and every other terrorist group, is a religious duty and national demand, but this does not mean that we must give up our religious beliefs.

Khalifa Haftar: Rebuilding Libya from the Top Down

Barak Barfi/Washington Institute
August 2014
As a leading Libyan military figure carries out a comprehensive campaign to uproot extremism in his country, Washington and its allies will need to find a way to balance his efforts against the need to curb growing violence and nurture a pluralistic state.
Download PDF
On May 16, 2014, Libyan general Khalifa Haftar launched Operation Dignity "in order to eliminate the extremist terrorist" groups that have been destabilizing the country. Two years in the planning, Operation Dignity involved Haftar revamping the army and attacking the government for its inertia and ties to Islamists. In rapidly evolving developments, intense fighting has spread to Tripoli and numerous airstrikes have been made on Islamist targets in the city, an escalation that portends the worst is yet to come. In this highly documented research note, Libya scholar Barak Barfi examines Haftar's life in detail to better allow policymakers to understand the lurking pitfalls in his movement while highlighting its potential to extract Libya from the morass. Although Haftar’s campaign poses risks to Libya’s nascent democracy, allowing the government to neglect the country is an even greater threat to its well-being, and the challenge facing Washington and its allies lies in balancing Haftar’s aspirations against the need to nurture a pluralistic state.
Barak Barfi is a research fellow at the New America Foundation, where he specializes in Arab and Islamist affairs. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Foreign Policy, Daily Beast, the Atlantic and the New Republic, and are regularly featured in Project Syndicate; he has also published extensively in leading foreign publications. Barfi spent six months in Libya during the 2011 revolution and has made frequent return trips. He is coauthor of the 2012 Institute study In War's Wake: The Struggle for Post-Qadhafi Libya.

Indonesia president: ISIS is ‘embarrassing’
By Staff Writer | Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 21 August 2014
The president of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, deemed the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group “embarrassing” to the religion and called upon Muslim leaders to unite in tackling extremism, Agence France-Presse reported.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the scale of the killing instigated by the extremists in their offensive in large areas of Iraq and Syria and the level of violence being used was appalling.
Infographic: Muslim leaders condemn ISIS
“It is shocking. It is becoming out of control,” he said in an interview with The Australian, a day after ISIS released a video showing a masked militant beheading U.S. reporter James Foley, provoking worldwide revulsion. “We do not tolerate it, we forbid ISIS in Indonesia,” he added. “Indonesia is not an Islamic state. We respect all religions.” Yudhoyono also urged international leaders to work together to combat radicalization. “This is a new wake-up call to international leaders all over the world, including Islamic leaders,” he said, adding that the actions of ISIS were not only “embarrassing” to Islam but also “humiliating”, the newspaper reported.“All leaders must review how to combat extremism. Changing paradigms on both sides are needed, how the West perceives Islam and how Islam perceives the West,” Yudhoyono said.
Indonesia is home to the world’s biggest Muslim population of about 225 million and has long struggled with terrorism. But a successful clampdown in recent years has seen the end of major deadly attacks.
‘ISIS worse than Saddam’In a related story, a Kurdish commander said ISIS militants targeting minorities are “worse than Saddam,” while he stood near a sand barrier at a front line in north Iraq, with the ISIS black flag fluttering in the distance. ISIS is “worse than Saddam. They use terror and chaos to force the population to flee. Then they take over,” said Major General Abdulrahman Kawiri, an officer in the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, puffing on a cigarette as the sun slips below the horizon. These statements hold special significance are they are made by a member of Iraq’s Kurdish community, which was targeted in a genocidal campaign in the 1980s by executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime that killed tens of thousands of people. Kawiri’s deputy, Major General Sardar Kamal, says the Kurds’ experience under Saddam is part of the reason they are so keen to join the fight against ISIS. “We don’t want history to repeat itself,” says Kamal, as his men pitch tents and get ready to spend the night guarding their freshly recaptured ground, just a few dozen meters from the nearest ISIS position.
In the distance, columns of smoke rise from the sites of American air strikes carried out in support of the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces fighting ISIS.
His forces also have strong Kurdish nationalist sentiment on their side. “We are fighting a war in self-defense, and we believe in our cause,” he says.
Kamal says he has been fighting with the Peshmerga since he was 16 years old. The Peshmerga’s long experience with guerrilla war against Saddam’s regime has helped the Kurds turn the tide after losing large swathes of territory to the IS in recent weeks, he says. The Peshmerga’s worst defeat was the ISIS capture of the Mosul Dam, the country’s largest, nearly a fortnight ago, but Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces retook it on Sunday.(With AFP)

Why ISIS killed James Foley
Thursday, 21 August 2014
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya

The gruesome video claiming the life of American journalist James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a sign of strength for the terrorist group. It is, however, indicative of the sheer brutality of its fighters and a tactical move to escape its Iraq woes by striking in Syria, the safer and more conducive sanctuary. While it is still unclear how Foley ended up in ISIS’ hands even though the group did not have a strong foothold when he was first captured in Aleppo in November of 2012, his killing fits perfectly the ISIS playbook. It is a playbook that puts it at odds even with its parent organization, al-Qaeda, but can offer a glimpse into the group’s thinking and ambition leading to Foley’s killing.
ISIS calculus
Daniel Byman, director of research and a senior fellow at Brookings Institute, tells Al Arabiya News that ISIS is “highly ideological but that does not make it irrational.” He defines the group as having “very effective propaganda, and unlike al-Qaeda, its focus is on regional and local wars and guerrilla conflict” instead of a global war. The Foley killing, following the serious setbacks ISIS has incurred in fighting with Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by U.S. airstrikes, is a message to the group’s supporters rather than a “message to America” as the video was termed. The group who is relinquishing control of the Mosul Dam, and is being pushed back from Western Iraq, needed to reassure its supporters that the one-month-and-a-half old “Islamic State” is not crumbling and that it has the muscle to hurt the United States, as it stood helpless receiving the 84 airstrikes. The video combines ISIS two assets: savagery and propaganda. It is through the first that it has managed to terrorize Syrians and Iraqis while taking over cities like Raqqa and Tikrit and Mosul. Unlike al-Qaeda, ISIS has strongly relied on beheadings, lynching, and other barbaric acts ever since it emerged in Iraq at the helm of Abu Musaab Zarqawi in 2004. Its current leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi is drawn into publicity stunts which include an English monthly magazine and a Youtube station. This helps ISIS attract money and foreign recruitments in the likes of the alleged British Jihadist who spoke perfect English while holding the knife to Foley’s throat. “The Foley killing, following the serious setbacks ISIS has incurred in fighting with Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by U.S. airstrikes, is a message to the group’s supporters rather than a “message to America” as the video was termed”
Relocate to Syria?
The killing of Foley in northern Syria while ISIS is on the defensive in Iraq, is a reminder that of the group’s territorial expansion and ability to operate with relative ease inside Syria. Byman who is an expert on counterterrorism, says “ISIS can be pushed back in Iraq with a combination of Iraqi and Kurdish forces and U.S. airpower”. This push is gaining political momentum with the Iraqi polarizing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki stepping down, and the beginning of the talks on a new inclusive government headed by Haidar Abadi. The new Iraqi dynamic especially if the Abadi government reconciles with the tribes of Anbar -who mostly sided with ISIS in June-, could at the very least complicate the group’s calculus inside Iraq. Byman warns, however, that “it will be hard to inflict deeper blows on ISIS without addressing the problem in Syria.” He adds that the “group can train, recruit, and organize from Syria and its leaders have sanctuary there when necessary.”Syria, where ISIS chose to retaliate by killing Foley, is a recruitment hub for the terrorist organization given the state of the conflict, and the porous borders. Just last month, ISIS has reportedly attracted at least 6300 fighters into Syria, and is making advances in Aleppo while it loses territory in Iraq. Crucial to ISIS power in Syria, has been according to Byman “its willingness to have limited tacit deals with the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime while both focused on other militant groups.” In Iraq, however, ISIS is “at war with several groups that might not otherwise be hostile” such as the Kurds and the Yazidis.
Opportunistic and flexible
According to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, U.S. intelligence officials describe ISIS as “patient, well-organized, opportunistic and flexible.” They also don’t see ISIS collapsing on its own.
For his part U.S. President Barack Obama, even after Foley’s death, has shied away from expanding the scope of the airstrikes into Syria. Byman does not expect such an escalation either. “For now I do not see the airstrikes expanding to Syria” he says, adding that “the Obama administration was reluctant to enter the fray” in the last three years, and the current reality can prove to be more messy for a risk-averse President. Foley’s killing is an opportunistic publicity performance for ISIS. It allows it to recapture some momentum among its ideological barbaric base and resurface in Syria where it is less likely to be targeted by U.S. airstrikes or marginalized through a political solution in the near future.

Tell Sisi!’ Egypt’s messages are loud and clear
Thursday, 21 August 2014
Abdel Latif el-Menawy/Al Arabiya


I haven't been able to visit my family in my hometown for quite a while. The recent Eid al-Fitr holiday was an occasion to make this visit. It was a chance to take a trip down memory lane. City residents' visits to their hometowns have for a long time been an occasion for those residing elsewhere to send messages to the authority in the capital. It doesn't matter if these visitors from the city are of real influence in the capital, but their mere presence in the city is considered a communication privilege.
This is an old habit of townspeople. Despite modern means of communication and the various media outlets – which have turned into a wide spread, controlling monster – there's still the habit of conveying one's voice via residents of the capital, especially if the latter have real contact with decision makers.
I personally experience this every time I left Cairo to visit my hometown.
But this time was different. The messages they conveyed were a mixture of hope, worry, anticipation and suppressed anger. I noticed that all these messages began with the phrase "tell Sisi." Each message carried a certain tone but even as tones differed, all messages implied hope in Sisi and his ability to govern. This hope however did not prevent people from expressing anger - which are restrained by many positive feelings towards the president currently felt in the country.
‘We want to know’
"Tell Sisi that we love him and that we accepted the increase of fuel prices although they were a direct cause to the increase of all prices. Tell Sisi not to believe statements from government officials who say they have been able to control price increases or that merchants have promised to have fixed prices. The cost of living has become very high. Tell Sisi we can tolerate more than this but on the condition that our hopes are fulfilled in the future. Tell him to instill hope in us for what lies ahead. We can tolerate power cuts, but we want to know who is responsible, when the problem will be solved and how it will be solved. We want to know."
"Tell Sisi hospitals still suffer and we still suffer. You solved the problem of doctors (going on strike) but hospitals' services are still as bad as they were. There are hospitals in Egypt that deserve attention other than the Qasr el-Aini Hospital which the prime minister visited more than once. There are other hospitals across the country's towns and cities. There are also other hospitals which are far from the capital which if are not fixed, attempts to reform the health system will not succeed.
“Tell Sisi the plan to build more than 3,000 kilometers of road is an important and great project but we are asking him to look into the situation of existing roads with reports he commissions himself. Tell Sisi to try traveling on the ‘coastal international route’ which has parts as long as 100 kilometers are with no lighting and no evidence of maintenance being carried out. It's a real death road. And they call it an international road, so what about other roads? The Cairo–Alexandria desert route should not be the only focus. Let's establish new roads. This is important but before that let's save whatever roads we have. Let's save lives being wasted and let's save the bleeding economy."
The messages haven't ended yet.


One year after Ghouta massacre, ISIS’ evil has clouded Assad’s
Thursday, 21 August 2014
Brooklyn Middleton/Al Arabiya
Today marks the unholy one-year anniversary of Bashar al-Assad’s brutal chemical weapon massacre in East Ghouta that left hundreds dead, including a number of children, and at least another 3,000 injured – with many reports indicating a far higher death toll; the sarin nerve agent assault, likely delivered by surface-to-surface rockets, was only one of a myriad of deadly examples of what a disgraced regime left mostly unchecked by the international community is capable of.
Despite the United States, Russian-backed chemical weapons deal that has ultimately led to Assad’s declared arsenal – key word there being declared, which chlorine gas, repeatedly used in continued attacks, was in fact not – being destroyed, Syria has continued to spiral into chaos and destruction while the Islamic State continues metastasizing across the region.
Meanwhile, as the threat of an imminent mass killing of the Yazidi community trapped on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar finally gave President Barack Obama’s administration reason to make a proactive foreign policy decision, the U.S. air force has begun conducting airstrikes, coordinating security efforts with Kurdish Peshmerga ground forces in northern Iraq. Days after this, Assad forces conducted over a dozen airstrikes targeting IS cadres as they neared the regime held Tabqa air base in Raqqa province, making for headlines that appeared to align the United States, Kurdish forces, and the Syrian regime – a notion of cooperation that is truly unbearable.
The threat of collectively forgetting the Assad regime’s own unspeakable acts of evil – or allowing them to be eclipsed by social media savvy militants who insist on documenting their every despicable murder – is increasing by the moment, with some calling to work directly with Assad. Noting the utter lack of humanity that is calling for security cooperation with a mass murderer after he’s killed with impunity for years, it is also a policy recommendation that wholly ignores the fact that Assad – like using starvation as a weapon – cultivated ISIS’ own rise as an effective strategy for remaining in power.
The uptick in photographic evidence of beheadings and crucifixions, easily viewed by casually checking Twitter accounts of ISIS fanboys, are indeed appalling. But certainly, the numerous videos showing tiny mouths gasping for air after Assad forces gassed an entire neighborhood are no less evil. Little limbs being dug out of rubble after one of the thousands of indiscriminate barrel bombings prove no less haunting. Without doubt, Syrian government snipers targeting pregnant women and their unborn fetuses – documented by a doctor who described the act as “beyond hell” - are no less horrifying. Women being stoned to death for adultery by ISIS cadres – what a surreal series of words to write in 2014 – is as bereft of humanity as government troops demanding a nurse provide a list of names of who she was treating or else be gang raped. Even a few of the 50,000 photographs – a staggering figure – smuggled out of Syria by “Caesar,” a soldier who defected, reveal clear evidence of torture and emaciated bodies, "reminiscent of the pictures of those [who] were found still alive in the Nazi death camps after World War II."
Strategically, aiding Kurdish fighters is imperative but when the U.S. predicates such international involvement on a commitment to fighting inexplicable evil, they risk subtly asserting that the years of Assad regime abuses were in some way any less horrifying – that’s not just baseless but it is an affront to the victims of Assad’s own barbarism.
Yesterday, as the United States confirmed the ineffably tragic reports that ISIS militants gruesomely beheaded American journalist James Foley – President Obama himself noted that people do not deserve to live under “the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists.” The point, of course, could not be more spot on, but policy and rhetoric regarding the unspeakable evil of the Islamic State as well as the Assad regime should better reflect that.

Hammering Hamas chiefs with pinpointed intelligence is Israel's new war focus. Ministers in mutiny
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 21, 2014/The fact that, after six weeks of the Gaza war, Israel has no victory to show for it and Hamas can still fire 100-150 rockets a day, has sparked a ministerial mutiny against the way the war is managed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The replies offered by the two war planners in a televised press conference Wednesday night, Aug. 20, failed to satisfy their critics. A radio interview with one of those critics, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, the next morning, showed that the opposition to Netanyahu was snowballing beyond the vocal right-wing ministers Avigdor Liberman and Naftali Bennett. It had been joined by pro-diplomacy Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, head of Hatnua, as well as cabinet members from the prime minister’s own Likud. The hard questions they are asking includes another: Why engage in diplomacy with the Hamas terrorist group in the first place, when it is obvious that Israel will have to make major concessions that would further strengthen Hamas’ grip on the Gaza Strip. The IDF should be allowed to finish Hamas off and rid Gaza of a terrorist regime which abuses its people and menaces Israel.
Netanyahu answered his opponents by giving he war a new direction, which he termed “hammering versus attrition” – his answer to the war of attrition launched by Hamas.
In other words, the prime minister has once again opted for dragging the Gaza war into a new phase rather than heading straight for a clear-cut victory.
The IDF embarked on this new phase Tuesday night, Aug. 19, shortly after Hamas resumed rocket attacks on Israel in violation of a 24-hour ceasefire, and Israeli negotiators quit Cairo for an indefinite absence. Using pinpointed military intelligence, Israeli bombers struck a building in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, where Muhammed Deif, Hamas’ military chief, had hidden his family.
Netanyahu and Ya’alon counted on breaking the news of Deif’s death as a bombshell at their Wednesday press conference. But this was not to be. Deif’s wife and infant son died. Biut Hamas wrapped so many layers of secrecy and disinformation around the incident, that no one can tell whether its military chief came out of the massive bombardment alive or is dead.
Deprived of this trump card, the prime minister lost no time in striking again. Thursday morning, the Israel air force, acting on precise intelligence, leveled a four-storey house in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, killing three leading lights of Hamas’ southern command: Ra’ad al-Atar (Abu Ayman), commander of the Rafah Brigade, Mohammed Abu Shamala (Abu Khalil), commander of the Southern Brigade; and Mohammed Barhoum. All three were deeply engaged in developing Hamas’ capabilities, including digging tunnels to Israel and smuggling weapons into Gaza.
Netanyahu’s “hammering” campaign had begun to unfold as the singling out of Hamas military leaders and commanders for assassination.
It is hard to say whether they would have been left alone if the Deif hit had succeeded. It stands to reason that the IDF could have hit the three southern commanders back in the last week of July, during its punitive operation for the killing of Lt. Hadar Goldin by Hamas and its abduction of his remains. But activating a hit list against Hamas chiefs in the third week of August takes the war in a direction which Netanyahu and Ya’alon refused to countenance until now – expansion. It also closes off their preferred solution of the conflict – a diplomatic accord based on the Egyptian initiative which would inevitably lead to the new political horizon, which the prime minister promised Wednesday was awaiting Israel. Netanyahu also denounced the ministers who inappropriately voice their objections to government policy in the middle of a war. Gideon Sa’ar rejected this complaint. He also stressed that the Cairo negotiations must not be revived, because the only winner from the process would be Hamas, which would use its ill-gotten gains to beat the rival Fatah led by Mahmoud Abbas into submission.
“Hamas must be defeated for Israel to gain a new political horizon,” he said. “And the cabinet is against negotiating terms with a Palestinian terrorist organization.”
If the interior minister has got it right, Netanyahu and Ya’alon no longer have a majority for the way they are running the war in the security-political cabinet - and possibly even in the full cabinet too.