August 27/14

Bible Quotation for today/ Healing of the possessed by possessed by demons
Mark 05/01-20: "They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake. The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 26 & 27/14

The Endurance of Religious Extremism/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/August  27/14

Assad, look in the mirror before you ‘fight terror’/By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya/August 27/14

Does Russia hold the key to the ISIS crisis/By: Maria Dubovikova/Al Arabiya/August 27/14

The Death of James Foley/By: Diana Moukalled /Asharq Al Awsat/August 27/14

Lebanese Related News published on August 26 & 27/14

STL resumes hearing
Elie Mansour Kfouri was Killed after Failed Shop Robbery in Jal el-Dib

Rocket Fired from Wadi al-Litani Region towards Israel
Jomaa Confesses: Jihadists Wanted to Establish 'Emirate' with Zureiqat as Leader
Mashnouq Plays Down Jomaa's Confessions Effect on Release of Arsal Captives
Army Finds More Launchpads that Targeted Israel

Jumblat Travels to Undisclosed Destination, Cancels Meetings with Gemayel and Geagea

Bassil Denies Playing Role of Mediator to Facilitate Presidential Elections

Shura Council approves passing certificates

Berri: Lebanon in need of swift military

Future MP snubs Hezbollah call for dialogue

EDL willing to talk as it evacuates its premises
Contract workers urged to end ‘riots’


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 26 & 27/14

USA: No Plans to Coordinate with Syria on Fighting Islamic State

Israel pressures Hamas, as sides weigh truce deal

Security officials paint picture of Gaza street seething and Hamas in disarray
Khaled Meshaal rock firm against truce. Hamas-Gaza fires upgraded rocket to maximize casualties
Israeli strikes push Gaza death toll above 2,100

US working with Jordan, EU on Gaza truce draft

Obama ‘okays’ surveillance flights over Syria
Canada Condemns Targeting of Worshippers in Iraq

US surveillance planes fly over Syria
Height of audacity
Iran replaces Revolutionary Guard commander in Iraq

Doha proposes more discussions in Gulf dispute: sources

Canada Condemns Targeting of Worshippers in Iraq
August 25, 2014 - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:
“Canada condemns the targeted killings of Iraqi Shiite Muslim worshipers near Baghdad today and of Sunni Muslim worshipers in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala on Friday. These vicious attacks, which claimed the lives of several dozen innocent civilians, only serve to inflame sectarian tensions among Iraqis. “On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my prayers and deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives and to those injured in the attacks. “Such violence perpetrated against any faith community must not be tolerated. Attacks on Muslims from both traditions who were seeking to practise their faith are completely unacceptable. As Canada has said, democracy cannot find fertile ground in any society where freedom of religion, including the freedom to worship in peace and security, is not respected. “Canada calls upon Iraqi leaders to come together and govern for all Iraqis, regardless of religion, for the sake of the security, democracy and prosperity that the Iraqi people are striving to implant in their country.”


Shura Council approves passing certificates
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Shura Council Tuesday approved a government-backed decision by the Education Ministry to issue passing certificates for all students in light of a strike by teachers. The council, a governmental body whose recommendations are non-binding, approved the move, which had previously only been used in Lebanon during the days of the 1975-1990 Civil War. The council usually evaluates a government decision and the circumstances that prompted it. Education Minister Elias Bou Saab said his ministry would issue passing certificates for students who took the official final exams, after efforts to convince teachers to back down on their boycott of correcting the tests for Brevet and Baccalaureate students failed. The Cabinet had supported Bou Saab’s decision to issue the certificates that would allow college-bound students to enroll in their universities on time. Bou Saab has said that his move was a last resort to safeguard the school term and the future of over 100,000 students.
Striking teachers and the Union Coordination Committee criticized the minister’s decision, saying the move served as a blow to the quality of education in the country.

Elie Mansour Kfouri was Killed after Failed Shop Robbery in Jal el-Dib
Naharnet/A man was killed on Tuesday morning during a failed shop robbery in Beirut's Jal el-Dib area, reported the National News Agency. It said that Elie Mansour Kfouri was killed as the robbers sought to flee the scene of the crime. NNA said that the armed thieves were robbing a store near the Mar Taqla church in the area when they were detected by one of the locals. Fearing being caught, the two robbers fled the store, while firing arbitrarily from their weapons. One of the shots struck Kfouri and he soon died of his injury. He is the owner of a nearby electronics shop, added NNA. An investigation has been opened in the incident.

Rocket Fired from Wadi al-Litani Region towards Israel
Naharnet /A rocked was fired on Monday evening from southern Lebanon towards Israel, as sirens wailed across northern Israeli settlements without any immediate reports of injuries.
"A rocket was fired from an area near (the southern) al-Jarmaq region in Wadi al-Litani towards Israel,” LBCI television reported in the evening. "At least one rocket fired from Lebanon hit the Upper Galilee," a message on the military's official Twitter feed said. Right after, Israeli media said sirens wailed in Kiryat Shmona, Metulla, al-Manara, Misgav Am and Kfar Giladi settlements. Israel later fired retaliatory shells towards the area in southern Lebanon from which the rocket was launched at Israel. Late on Saturday evening, a rocket fired from Lebanese territory hit northern Israel, the Israeli army said on the 47th day of a war against the Islamist movement Hamas in and around Gaza. "The rocket that was fired from Lebanon hit the Upper Galilee," the army said in a statement. No group has so far claimed responsibility for that rocket attack at Israel. And on Sunday two rocket launchpads were found in the southern region of Tyre, from which the two rockets were fired. UNIFIL Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano strongly condemned the rocket fire, describing it as a dangerous violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah. In mid-July, at least nine rockets were fired from Lebanon at Israel, prompting Tel Aviv to retaliate with artillery fire. Lebanese military officials had at the time said they believed the attacks were carried out by a small Palestinian group in an act of solidarity with Gazan militants.

Mashnouq Plays Down Jomaa's Confessions Effect on Release of Arsal Captives

Naharnet /Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq played down on Tuesday the confessions of al-Nusra Front leader, whose arrest sparked clashes between Islamist gunmen with the Lebanese army earlier in August. “I don't think that (Imad) Jomaa's confessions would thwart the ongoing endeavors to release the kidnapped soldiers,” Mashnouq said in comments published in al-Liwaa newspaper.
He ruled out any tension among cabinet members on the matter, denying that the release of Jomaa is a condition set by the Islamist gunmen to safely release the security personnel.
“The demands circulated in media outlets are inaccurate,” Mahsnouq, who is a Mustaqbal movement official, told the newspaper. On August 2, deadly fighting erupted in and around the northeastern border town of Arsal, leaving 19 soldiers, 16 civilians and dozens of jihadists dead. The clashes ended with a truce negotiated by Lebanese Sunni clerics, but the jihadists withdrew from the area taking captive around 34 security personnel with them. The assault on the town aimed to “turn it into a launchpad for attacks against other Lebanese towns and against the Lebanese Army in order to create a bigger conflict zone stretching from Syria's Qalamun and the Bekaa to the (Lebanese) north,” Jomaa has reportedly confessed. “We will exert efforts to release the hostage security personnel,” Mashnouq said, slamming the Muslim Scholars Committee for “publicly” suspending their negotiations with the armed men. Jomaa was known to be a member of al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syria franchise, but a video that surfaced in recent weeks shows him pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, which reportedly appointed him as the leader of the extremist Fajr al-Islam Brigade. Media reports have said that Abou Talal al-Hamad assumed leadership of the Brigade in the wake of Jomaa's arrest and that he is in charge of negotiating over the abducted troops.


Berri: Lebanon in need of swift military assistance
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri Tuesday urged the international community to rapidly provide military assistance for the Army and security forces, underlining the Islamist threat faced by Lebanon.  During a meeting with the representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Berri asked the international community primarily the envoys of the council members “to swiftly support the Army and security forces, and overcome the traditional, protocol mechanism to meet the pressing demands as soon as possible." He also spoke to the ambassadors about the threats facing Lebanon from terrorist groups, warning that such dangers could move to other areas, referring to clashes between the Lebanese Army and militants from Syria earlier this month.  Berri had summoned Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin, British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, U.S. Ambassador David Hale, and the French and Chinese Charge D'affairs as well as U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Pumbly. Last year, Saudi Arabia announced a $3 billion grant for the Lebanese Army to purchase military equipment from France, but as of yet no arms deal has been made. Media reports have talked about complications preventing the Army from receiving needed assistance, including delays on Paris’ behalf. Days after clashes in the northeastern border region with militants ended, Riyadh announced a further $1 billion grant to the Army and security forces to support their efforts in combating terrorism and the threat of militants.

Army Finds More Launchpads that Targeted Israel
Naharnet/The Lebanese Army found on Monday night a launchpad in the southern Marjeyoun al-Jarmaq area that was used to launch missiles into Israel, the army said in a communique on Tuesday.
"The Lebanese army executed a thorough inspection in the al-Jarmak valley area after unknown assailants fired rockets into the Palestinian territories from the said location,” the communique added. After a close investigation, the army said that only one rocket was fired from the platform while another was prepared for launching. NNA said that the rocket was dismantled later by the Lebanese army weapon engineers. The army kicked off investigations to find the perpetrators. Israel intensified its patrols along the border line starting from al-Adaysseh extending to the Shebaa and Kfarshuba hills which triggered tension. Meanwhile the UNIFIL executed patrols along the blue line. Unmanned Israeli surveillance planes and helicopters continue to hover above Shabaa. On Sunday, two rocket launchpads were found in the southern region of Tyre, from which two rockets were fired overnight Saturday at northern Israel. The two rockets were fired on the 47th day of an Israeli war against the Islamist movement Hamas in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Future MP snubs Hezbollah call for dialogue
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Future MP Ammar Houri Tuesday snubbed Hezbollah’s recent call for reactivating national dialogue, saying that dialogue was senseless while the party refuses to discuss the main points of contention. “What dialogue and what understanding are they calling for?” Houri asked in an interview with the Voice of Lebanon radio station. “Our conflict with Hezbollah revolves around three main issues which they consider to be off the table." Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian conflict, the fate of the resistance’s military arsenal and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, are the main divisive issues between Future-led March 14 coalition and their rival March 8 camp. Houri argued that Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria “would inevitably ease internal tensions and help create a relaxed atmosphere conducive to dialogue and understanding.” Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Qassem, had called on March 14 to submit a political vision for ending the three-month political deadlock that has blocked the election of a new head of state to succeed former President Michel Sleiman, whose tenure expired on May 25. Commenting on a reported bid to break the stalemate undertaken by MP Walid Jumblatt and Speaker Nabih Berri, Houri said there was no clear initiative for agreeing on a compromise candidate to fill the country’s top post. “MP Walid Jumblatt a short while ago started a tour of political leaders for the sake of consultation, but until this hour there is no detailed proposal or initiative,” Houri said. He argued that March 14 was flexible in the sense that it would discuss pulling out its presidential hopeful, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, in favor of a compromise candidate. “This should open the way for the opposite camp to move closer, but they have not shown any positive response and are still showing stubbornness,” Houri added. The lawmaker played down expectations that a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement could have positive impact on Lebanon in the imminent future. “Any positive development in the region would eventually have a positive impact on Lebanon, but I don’t think that any regional understandings would result in a quick and immediate improvement in Lebanon, because it takes time to translate all this on the ground,” Houri said. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Saudi Arabia Monday, a move seen aimed at repairing strained relations. The two countries are on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, with Tehran backing President Bashar Assad and Riyadh supporting the rebels trying to topple him.

Jomaa Confesses: Jihadists Wanted to Establish 'Emirate' with Zureiqat as Leader
Naharnet/The jihadists who overran Arsal in early August wanted to establish an Islamic "emirate" straddling northern and eastern regions and linked to Syria's Qalamun with Sirajeddine Zureiqat, a spokesman of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, as its "emir," a media report said on Monday. "Imad Jomaa, whose arrest sparked the clashes (with the Lebanese army), confessed during preliminary investigations that Abou Malek al-Souri, emir of the al-Nusra Front in Qalamun, and the 29 armed groups under his command had agreed before Jomaa's capture to wage a joint attack on Arsal,” LBCI TV reported. On August 2, deadly fighting erupted in and around Arsal, leaving 19 soldiers, 16 civilians and dozens of jihadists dead. The clashes ended with a truce negotiated by Lebanese Sunni clerics, but the jihadists withdrew from the area taking around 34 captive security personnel with them. The assault on the town aimed to “turn it into a launchpad for attacks against other Lebanese towns and against the Lebanese Army in order to create a bigger conflict zone stretching from Syria's Qalamun and the Bekaa to the (Lebanese) north,” Jomaa reportedly confessed. An Islamic “emirate” was supposed to be subsequently proclaimed, with Zureiqat as its leader, the detainee added. He told interrogators that he was personally tasked with “coordinating the operation” and that seven groups were supposed to seize control of the army's posts in Arsal before moving to conquer Lebanese towns in the Bekaa and the North. “Dormant cells in several Lebanese regions would have sought to create instability,” Jomaa added.
He noted that his arrest sparked the premature battle with the army, which was supposed to start on August 5. The armed groups agreed on a “pact” on how to “deal with the Shiite and Christian villages after carrying out the operation,” Jomaa said. According to the so-called pact, “the Rafida, or Shiites, represent the first target.”“The greatest number possible of Hizbullah's men and women should be taken captive and anyone above 15 years old must be killed should they show any resistance,” reads the pact. Christians and members of other sects would be spared “should they stay in their homes,” according to the jihadist agreement. The pact also calls for taking hostage the highest number possible of army troops, especially officers, and killing anyone who resists. Jomaa was known to be a member of al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syria franchise, but a video that surfaced in recent weeks shows him pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, which reportedly appointed him as the leader of the extremist Fajr al-Islam Brigade. Media reports have said that Abou Talal al-Hamad assumed leadership of the Brigade in the wake of Jomaa's arrest and that he is in charge of negotiating over the abducted troops.

Jumblat Travels to Undisclosed Destination, Cancels Meetings with Gemayel and Geagea
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblat postponed his upcoming meetings with senior Lebanese officials after he surprisingly left Beirut.
Al-Liwaa newspaper, published on Tuesday, said that the destination of Jumblat is unknown, despite rumors saying that he headed to the French capital Paris for talks with al-Mustaqbal chief Saad Hariri.
The Druze leader was compelled to canceled his meetings with Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
Jumblat kicked off recently a tour on Maronite leaders as part of his efforts to convince the rival leaders to elect a compromise president.
He has so far met with Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh, Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.
Lebanon's top Christian post was left vacant in May this year when the rival MPs failed to elect a successor to President Michel Suleiman over their differences on a compromise candidate.
The majority of the March 8 alliance's MPs, including Aoun's parliamentary bloc, boycotted the sessions aimed at electing a head of state, causing lack of quorum.

Bassil Denies Playing Role of Mediator to Facilitate Presidential Elections

Naharnet/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil denied claims that an ambassador, whose identity was not disclosed, had requested that he play the role of mediator to facilitate holding the presidential elections, reported An Nahar daily on Tuesday. He told the daily: “I am not a mediator in this affair.” “I am the most inflexible member of the Free Patriotic Movement” and therefore cannot act as mediator, he explained. “I adopt a strict position and therefore am not in a position to be approached to serve as a facilitator,” stressed the minister. Bassil revealed that he was approached to play such a role, but he turned it down due to his stances. Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. Numerous elections sessions were held, but the majority of them failed due to a lack of quorum at parliament caused by a boycott of the March 8 camp's Loyalty to the Resistance and Change and Reform blocs. The boycott stems from a dispute over a compromise president.
Head of the Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Aoun has repeatedly said that he would be willing to run in the elections if there was consensus over him. His rival in the March 14 alliance and presidential candidate Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea has accused the lawmaker and his bloc of obstructing the polls as a form of blackmail to impose his nomination and election.

Israeli strikes push Gaza death toll above 2,100
August 25, 2014. (Reuters)
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Two Palestinians were killed on Tuesday in an Israeli air raid on Gaza, medical sources said.
The deaths take to 2,136 the number of Palestinians killed since July 8 when the Israeli offensive started. An army spokesman said Israel carried out 15 raids since 2100 GMT Monday, while several Hamas rockets were fired at Israel Tuesday morning. One of the rockets was destroyed by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system in the greater Tel Aviv area, according to Agence France-Presse.
Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement that they fired "a rocket at Haifa and four at the Tel Aviv region" in reprisal for the attacks against the 14- and 16-storey buildings.
Two rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon late Monday, an army spokeswoman said. Israel had earlier only mentioned one such attack. Separetely, Israel bombed on Tuesday two high-rise buildings collapsing one and severely damaging the other, the Associated Press reported. The objects of the latest strikes contain apartments inhabited almost exclusively by middle-class Gazans.In the past, the Israeli military has hit targets in high-rises in pinpoint strikes, but left the buildings standing. Since Saturday, it has toppled or destroyed five towers and shopping complexes.
Political scientist Mkhaimar Abu Sada from Gaza's Al Azhar University said he believed the Israeli tactic was a deliberate attempt to pressure Hamas by targeting middle class structures in neighborhoods like Rimal and Tel al-Hawa, which have so far been spared the worst of the fighting. Egyptian mediators proposed on Monday a new ceasefire that would open the crossings of the blockaded Gaza Strip and allow in aid and reconstruction materials, a senior Palestinian official said, as the Israeli army continued its almost two-month long offensive on the enclave. The Palestinians, including the de facto Hamas rulers of the enclave, would be willing to accept such a deal if Israel does, the official told Agence France-Presse. The proposal would defer to a later date negotiations on disputed points that have prevented a long-term ceasefire deal, he added. An Egyptian official confirmed that mediators have contacted the Palestinians and Israel with a new proposal. "There is an idea for a temporary ceasefire that opens the crossings, allows aid and reconstruction material, and the disputed points will be discussed in a month," the Palestinian official said. "We would be willing to accept this, but are waiting for the Israeli response to this proposal," he said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.[With AFP]

Obama ‘okays’ surveillance flights over Syria

The Associated Press, Washington
Tuesday, 26 August 2014/The U.S. has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the OK, officials said early Tuesday, in a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. While the White House said Monday that Obama has not approved military action inside Syria, additional intelligence on the militants would likely be necessary before he could take that step. Pentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, including airstrikes. One official said the administration has a need for reliable intelligence from Syria and called the surveillance flights an important avenue for obtaining data. The U.S. began launching strikes against the Islamic State inside Iraq earlier this month, with Obama citing the threat to American personnel in the country and a humanitarian crisis in the north as his rationale. Top Pentagon officials have said the only way the threat from the militants can be fully eliminated is to go after the group inside neighboring Syria as well. Obama has long resisted taking military action in Syria, a step that would plunge the U.S. into a country ravaged by an intractable civil war. However, the president's calculus appears to have shifted since the Islamic State announced last week that it had murdered American journalist James Foley, who was held hostage in Syria. The group is also threatening to kill other U.S. citizens being held by the extremists in Syria. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama has demonstrated his willingness to order military action when necessary to protect American citizens. "That is true without regard to international boundaries," he said. The White House would not comment on Obama's decision to authorize surveillance flights over Syria.
"We're not going to comment on intelligence or operational issues, but as we've been saying, we'll use all the tools at our disposal," said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council. The officials who confirmed the decision were not authorized to discuss Obama's decision publicly by name, and insisted on anonymity.
The U.S. had already stepped up its air surveillance of the Islamic State inside Iraq earlier this year as Obama began considering the prospect of airstrikes there. And the administration has run some surveillance missions over Syria, including ahead of an attempted mission to rescue Foley and other U.S. hostages earlier this summer. The U.S. special forces who were sent into Syria to carry out the rescue mission did not find the hostages at the location where the military thought they were being held. Officials who confirmed the failed rescue last week said the U.S. was continuing to seek out intelligence on the other hostages' whereabouts. Administration officials have said a concern for Obama in seeking to take out the Islamic State inside Syria is the prospect that such a move could unintentionally help embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. A top Syrian official said Monday any U.S. airstrikes without consent from Syria would be considered an aggression. The Islamic State is among the group's seeking Assad's ouster, along with rebel forces aided by the U.S. The White House on Monday tried to tamp down the notion that action against the Islamic State could bolster the Assad regime, with Earnest saying, "We're not interested in trying to help the Assad regime." However, he acknowledged that "there are a lot of cross pressures here."

Does Russia hold the key to the ISIS crisis?
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Maria Dubovikova/Al Arabiya
The one hundred year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War is being celebrated this year. One hundred years later, we are poised on the threshold of a new unpredictable war and chaos on a global scale. With four months left of 2014, the recent trends don’t promise any improvement. However, the international community has a chance to end the year on a relatively positive note. One tiny effort is needed, which is just to join hands.
The ISIS crisis is the most dangerous phenomenon in the midterm perspective as it menaces the whole world’s stability and future. It’s too late to blame anyone for its rise and its unexpectedly impressive strength. The only thing the international community should decide is how to deal with it and how to counter it.
To lay the foundation for effective international cooperation, international players must put aside all existing contradictions between the West and Russia
What is clear is that the air strikes that are generously proposed by the U.S. will neither solve the problem nor stop it spreading and may even stimulate the growth of the army of ISIS supporters, as collateral damage from air strikes could push people to act against Western forces. Moreover, this is not a problem to be resolved by a single country or even by a group of allies, especially Western ones. It’s a cataclysm that should be inevitably dealt with by the Middle East’s regional powers as well as by a broader coalition of all interested parties. I see that a full-scale war is inevitable if humanity wants to get rid of this cancerous disease. It should be admitted that ISIS’ rise would not be possible without external players’ assistance, including arms shipments. Providing the Syrian rebels with assistance, when numerous extremists and jihadists already invaded their ranks, was an extremely dangerous game. The risks were not properly taken into account. Now, the same external players have to deal with the threat that is born from their erroneous judgment.
A tough and critical response
The United States has to deploy boots on the ground in Iraq as it is responsible for the situation there, despite the fact that this is not the same administration that intervened in Iraq in 2003. However, the U.S. bears responsibility for the unpreparedness of the Iraqi army, despite years of training under the supervision of American instructors. The U.S. bears responsibility for the inability of the Iraqi army to repulse the attacks of extremist fighters and guarantee the security of their country.
It should be mentioned that the parties will have to deal with Syria as an equal partner, as for the moment the Syrian government’s forces are the only player able to effectively fight ISIS. All the disputes over the Assad government should be put aside, as now the international community is making a choice between the two evils. It’s not new, especially for the Western countries, to close one’s eyes and ignore once declared principles for the sake of their interests and vital necessity.
Any unilateral operation by the West on Syrian territory without any approval of the Syrian government would be dangerous and inappropriate for the current situation in the region and the international state of affairs. In the regional framework, intervention in Syria will trigger the spread of extremism and the growth of militants’ ranks. Moreover, there are great doubts that in case of intervention, only the extremists’ positions will be bombed. In this case, any weakening of the Syrian army would be fatal and irreversible in its consequences. In the global framework, the unilateral intervention, even with a noble purpose to fight ISIS, will completely destroy already dramatically damaged relations between Russia and the West. For Russia, Syria is still a sovereign country and any violation of its sovereignty will immediately cause the rise of extremist discontent and would unpredictably worsen the situation. Whatever the attitude towards the Russian Federation is, no one can disregard its global position and international weight.
Russia, an indispensable partner
For the moment, when the U.S., and NATO in particular, toughen rhetoric towards Russia and when Russia demonstrates the ability to respond, no one can predict what will act as the trigger, what will the modern day version of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand be? If the point of no return were to be reached in the relations between the West and Russia, it would mean fatal consequences for the world, especially in a combination with the spreading menace in the Middle East.
To lay the foundation for effective international cooperation international players must put aside all existing contradictions between the West and Russia and between the West and Iran. At this time, Russia would be an indispensable partner in the case of involving Syria in counter-terrorism operations.
The international community must understand that the true menace for stability comes not from Russia which is trying to defend its national interest (however sometimes in a too provocative manner), not from the U.S. (although its political miscounts and unbridled foreign policy strike at the international system), but from ISIS - inhuman extremists who already have a huge network of their adherents and admirers all over the world.
The disintegration of the international community plays into ISIS’ hands.
It’s time to wake up, to join forces and to set priorities, we must abandon the quest for being the boss and work together.

Khaled Meshaal rock firm against truce. Hamas-Gaza fires upgraded rocket to maximize casualties

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 26, 2014/Battered by Hamas’ escalating rocket and mortar assaults, Israelis are again tossed on the uncertain waters of an imminent ceasefire which never materializes. This illusion is propagated again by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi. Washington has also been enlisted to the effort by drafting a resolution for the UN Security Council. It was tabled at the request of the White House with quiet backing from Netanyahu for the purpose of blocking the European measure, which is backed by Qatar, one of the Hamas’ few supporters and host to its political leader Khaled Meshaal.
Why is President Barack Obama standing behind Egypt and Israel this time?
His reasoning is complicated. Netanyahu and El-Sisi, who speak regularly and discreetly by phone, have been persuaded by their intelligence services that Meshaal is an impediment - not just to a temporary ceasefire, but to any sort of accommodation for ending the Gaza conflict. They are convinced that all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas-Gaza, would go for an end to the war, in the hope of a Gaza deal leading to a settlement between Israel and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Those intelligence analysts cling to the hypothesis that Hamas-Gaza really wants to end the war, and this assumption dominates top-level thinking in Jerusalem and Cairo, in the face of all Hamas' actions to the contrary in 50 days of escalating Hamas warfare up until Tuesday, Aug. 26.
This dichotomy leaves Israelis increasingly confused and uncertain about how to conduct their lives, especially in the areas closest to the Gaza Strip, which have been largely depopulated by non-stop Hamas short-range rocket and mortar fire. The theory found a champion this week in an unexpected quarter: Khaled al-Batsh, one of the top men of Islamic Jihad, the pro-Iranian Palestinian terrorist movement which is Hamas’ most active partner in the offensive against Israel.
He suddenly announced he was in favor of a truce.
Lest he be suspected of overnight conversion to peace-lover, DEBKAfile’s intelligence services turns to another hidden aspect of the Gaza conflict for an explanation: The Palestinian group’s patrons, Iran and Hizballah, are working hard to paint their ally Syrian President Bashar Assad as the only force in the Middle East capable of fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – IS. If their proposition is accepted, they will reciprocate by bringing about a halt in the Gaza hostilities. They would also be able to show themselves in the light of the real forces of peace and moderation in the region.
The US-Egyptian-Israeli line therefore hinged on the presumption that a deal introducing Tehran to the Gaza equation would be beneficial, because Meshaal, who relies heavily on Iranian support, would not be able to spurn an Iranian demand to stop the fighting in Gaza. But this math has not panned out. Meshaal showed his nerves were strong enough to withstand the potion mixed for him in Washington, Jerusalem, Cairo, Ramallah. He not only stuck to his guns against ending the Gaza conflict, he outmaneuvered them all by enlisting Hamas’ secretive military chief Muhammed Deif to this end. The object of an Israeli targeted assassination on Aug. 19, Meshaal said that Deif had survived the attack and they were in close contact. Whether he spoke the truth or not cannot be determined at this point. But by bandying Deif’s name and claiming he too was flat against a ceasefire, Meshaal set a clear course for the war to continue, irrespective of efforts to bring about a truce in the fighting. Deif’s word in the movement is law, which no Hamas member would dare defy. So, at this point, all the schemes and machinations for ending the Gaza crisis by diplomacy are in deadlock, DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources report.
The two options remaining to the leaders of Egypt and Israel are: 1) Unable to break Khaled Meshaal’s will, they must find a way to persuade Hamas-Gaza that it is in their best interests to defy, or even sack, him. 2) To apply military pressure that is beyond Hamas’ capacity to resist – i.e., effective IDF ground action – to stop the fighting by sheer force.
Of course, if the Hamas political chief were to surprise everyone by caving in and accepting a truce, that would be a third option. But there are no signs of this happening. His movement continued meanwhile to signal its true intentions in no uncertain terms Tuesday, Aug. 26, Day 50 of the Gaza conflict, by unveiling a new 340mm rocket with an extra large warhead which crashed down on a private home in Ashkelon, injuring 59 people – the largest number of casualties by any single rocket so far. Two houses were leveled and dozens more damaged.
And so Hamas Gaza graphically belied the hypothesis of its intentions which guide – or misguide - Washington, Jerusalem and Cairo.
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Height of audacity
The Daily Star
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem used a news conference Monday to relay his regime’s latest thoughts on the topic of fighting terror, while contributing nothing other than an expansion of the world’s understanding of hypocrisy. He was speaking a day after regime troops suffered yet another defeat at the hands of ISIS by losing control of the Tabqa military air base, the regime’s last foothold in the province of Raqqa. The news conference was an exercise in time-wasting and insulted millions of Syrians and members of the international community. After the entire world learned how the Syrian regime unleashes the hell of barrel bombs on civilians in the city of Aleppo and elsewhere, Moallem calmly talked about how “anyone who kills an innocent Syrian civilian” was a terrorist. He delivered the usual lecture about sovereignty and against intervention in Syrian affairs, while conveniently forgetting four decades of his own country’s involvement in the affairs of Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Turks, to name just a few. In short, it was the kind of performance few take seriously. But Moallem was right about one thing, that Syria should be the “center” of an international coalition to fight ISIS – as long as the regime plays no part in the struggle and receives no benefits for having done everything in its power to help terrorist groups grow and expand. Moallem’s remarks were likely intended to take up space in the media, one day after its latest, humiliating defeat in Raqqa, which leaves the question of what it intends to do and say beginning Tuesday.

The Death of James Foley
Diana Moukalled /Asharq Al Awsat
Tuesday, 26 Aug, 2014
Many Arab and Islamic voices condemned the barbaric murder of American journalist James Foley at the hands of the murderers of what is known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
However, some of this condemnation was tinged with bitterness, indignation and criticism of the global uproar which followed the murder of this journalist in this barbaric manner, and which will probably strengthen the international alliance against this organization. “Hundreds and thousands died other than James Foley, and no one mentioned them.” “What about the children of Syria?” “What about the missing and the detained in the prisons of the Syrian regime?” “What about those killed by ISIS?” These are some of the comments which filled social media following the announcement of Foley’s death.
Yes, there are many questions and the comparisons can go on endlessly, and most of them include valid criticism. However, all this global interest and the sadness for courageous journalist James Foley, which was not afforded to many other victims, should not prompt us to react in this way to his tragic death. This media uproar will not bring him back to life.
This young man, who willfully chose to go to the most dangerous place in the world for journalists to bear witness to what was taking place there, died in the most heinous manner.
His previous articles showed great honesty in conveying the suffering of Syrians. In an interview following his release from detention in Libya in 2011 he said: “The truth is that when you see a lot of violence, it leaves you with a strange feeling, because violence does not always repel you, sometimes it draws you closer. The feeling that you have survived something; it’s a strange sort of force that you are drawn back to.” The drama of the conflict in Syria seems to have attracted James Foley, not just to the plight of the Syrians, but also to his end, and in the most heinous manner.
The flood of articles and condemnations of his execution will not erase from our memory his picture: kneeling down, shaven head, almost still, his quiet voice, and the way he surrendered calmly to his fate.
The comments and pictures which mourned him will not bring life back to his handsome features, which carried a sad tinge even when he smiled. Political statements will not bring back his soul, which was taken in the most brutal and cruel manner.
The global attention his death has received does not explain how this courageous journalist spent two years as a hostage. Who took him hostage when he disappeared on the Turkish–Syrian border? Who sold him to whom? What is the role of the Syrian regime in his detention—as hinted by the Global Post, the publication he worked for when he disappeared—which eventually led to his death at the hands of ISIS’s murderers? All this uproar is certainly not going to bring this man back to life, but it could be a cause to revive interest in other victims. We need to remember all that as we criticize the global media’s interest in James Foley. It is true that he is not the only one to have been killed or tortured, and it is true that there are thousands more whose stories we have not heard and who have not received enough interest from us as Foley did. However, we must always remember that this man was not from our midst and did not belong to our crises like most of the other victims did. James Foley came to Syria by choice, at a time when many refused or hesitated to do so, following the killing of many great journalists. Around 20 of them are still missing, and now we are alive in a time when the killing of James Foley has scared off those remaining adventurers who thought about coming. James Foley was among a minority who made the effort to ensure the suffering of Syrians did not become yesterday’s news.
After he was beheaded, will anyone else dare go to Syria? Will the Syrian’s suffering continue to worsen out of sight of the media, due to his death?

The Endurance of Religious Extremism
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Tuesday, 26 Aug, 2014
Negligence and a lack of attention allowed Al-Qaeda to flourish and attack US soil on September 11, 2001. That event marked the beginning of the “War on Terror.” A new era of that war is about to begin, following the news of the execution of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This act signals that similar crimes by the organization are in the pipeline. It is also likely to have awakened concerned parties to the present danger—Western states as well as regional ones, since they are also threatened by the organization and its sympathizers. The past 13 years have witnessed some of the largest campaigns against insurgent groups in history. These actions have included military confrontation, offering financial rewards, freezing bank accounts, shutting down propaganda-disseminating media outlets, and killing or detaining many of the organization’s leaders. Despite all that, the War on Terror has been a failure, and the group’s ideology continues to flourish. So, our enemy is not Al-Qaeda, or ISIS, or the Al-Nusra Front, but their ideologies—concepts which are a source of inspiration and energy. This is the reason why Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi emerged as the leader of ISIS, just as the late Osama Bin Laden emerged as the leader of Al-Qaeda. This ideology is also the reason why thousands of youths have arrived in Syria and Iraq ready and willing to die.
Our war—the world’s war, that of Muslims and others—is against evil ideas. Al-Qaeda is an idea, and so is ISIS. It is not about building an army, or expanding on the map or gaining oil fields. It is about a “sacred” group that rules in the name of God, and claims to get closer to Him by offering human sacrifices.
Even if US troops, or Iraqi troops, or Iraqi tribes, kill Baghdadi and his rival, Al-Nusra Front leader Mohammad Al-Golani , and the thousands of terrorists who follow them, the rebirth of Al-Qaeda under a new slogan is almost inevitable. We are locked in a struggle with extremism—a struggle that hasn’t ended since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took over power in Iran and since Salafist militant Juhayman Al-Otaybi occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979. Extremism is a disease that plagues the Arab world, many Muslim countries, and minority Muslim societies in European countries, even China. It is an Ebola-like disease—meaning it is not enough to get rid of the patients; you must also fight the virus. ISIS, and Al-Qaeda before it, should not be seen only as a threat to the West and the followers of other religions, because most of its victims are Muslims, and most of those are Sunni Muslims. Therefore, the biggest burden in the new round of the War on Terror is on Muslim countries, their governments and their intellectuals. I am certain that this strand of religious extremism will end, and will not be reborn for another 100 years if its sources of funding and its allies in the media and the education system are removed. However, the Islamic world still refuses to fully admit to the extent of the problem of extremism that lies within it. On the one hand, it fights against extremism in the security sphere. On the other hand, it tries to shift the blame onto others instead of admitting its illness and the need for long and harsh treatment. The virus of extremism has infiltrated society and culture. It is due to this virus that many act like brainwashed people, and roam the streets of their cities repeating the same ideas and defending extremism, more than willing to spread its teachings. And so, whenever counterterrorism forces kill 100 of them, 1,000 more are born.

USA: No Plans to Coordinate with Syria on Fighting Islamic State

World | Agence France-Presse | Updated: August 27,
Washington: The United States said on Tuesday that it would not coordinate with the government of President Bashar al-Assad on targeting Islamic State militants on Syrian territory, as preparations for possible air strikes gathered pace. President Barack Obama meanwhile warned that it would not be a quick or easy job to root out the "cancer" of IS, but said extremists responsible for the murder of US journalist James Foley would be hunted down and America would not forget their crime.
Obama has already authorized spy flights over Syria to prepare for possible attacks on IS to match those already conducted against the jihadist group in Iraq, prompting the Assad regime to warn Washington would need permission to operate in Syrian airspace. But White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Washington did not even recognize Assad -- whom it blames for igniting a vicious civil war -- as the legitimate leader of Syria, and dismissed his government's offer of a joint effort to combat "terrorism." "There are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime as we consider this terror threat," Earnest said.
Obama, speaking to military veterans in North Carolina, offered prayers to the parents of Foley, who was murdered by IS last week, and said justice would be done.
"Our message to anyone who harms our people is simple: America does not forget. Our reach is long. We are patient. Justice will be done," Obama told the American Legion annual convention.
"We have proved, time and time again, we will do what's necessary to capture those who harm Americans, to go after those who harm Americans."
IS a 'cancer'

As he contemplates military action against IS in Syria, Obama also warned against expecting immediate results as US intelligence agencies begin to build data on potential targets.
"Rooting out a cancer like (IS) won't be easy and it won't be quick," he said.Obama also defended his decision to bring tens of thousands of US troops home from Iraq and to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of this year. He reiterated that America would not be "dragged" into more fighting by deploying ground troops in Iraq, despite recent air strikes.
"Ultimately, it is up to the Iraqis to bridge their differences and secure themselves," Obama said, arguing that US air strikes in Iraq over the last two weeks had protected US advisors there and helped local forces advance against IS.
Story First Published: August 27, 2014 00:37 IST

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