Bible Quotation for today/The Last
02 Timothy 03: ” Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days.
People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; they will be unkind,
merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; they will
be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather
than God; they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its
real power. Keep away from such people. Some of them go into people’s houses and
gain control over weak women who are burdened by the guilt of their sins and
driven by all kinds of desires, women who are always trying to learn but who can
never come to know the truth. As Jannes and Jambres were opposed to Moses, so
also these people are opposed to the truth—people whose minds do not function
and who are failures in the faith. But they will not get very far, because
everyone will see how stupid they are. That is just what happened to Jannes and
August 29 &
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai calls for UN-led
military force against ISIS
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: 29/08/14/The United Nations should lead a military force
against ISIS Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Friday, while partially blaming
the international community for the rise of extremism. In a speech tackling
possible solutions to the crises faced by the international Christian community,
Rai called for the creation of “a military force under the hospices of the
United Nations and the Security Council to put an end to the invasion by the
terrorist organizations.”Rai gave the address at the International Catholic
Legislators Network’s conference in the Vatican City, which joins together
Christian figures and government officials from numerous states, most notably
the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Spain. The prelate blamed the
international community for “bearing some responsibility for the growth of
terrorist organizations,” and the tragedies occurring across the Middle East.
“Everyone knows that those countries are victims of international struggle
motivated by political, economic and strategic interests [that are] related to
the gas and the petrol in those countries,” he said. Stressing that the world
“should put an end to the terrorist organizations and especially ISIS," Rai said
that the Arab and Islamic states should be especially concerned, given the harm
such groups are causing to Islam. Groups such as ISIS are “offering a distorted
image of Islam by presenting it to the world as a religion that rejects
diversity and persecutes those who are different,” he said. Rai warned that the
ongoing attacks on Christians in Iraq and Syria might lead to the creation of
new, catastrophic realities. “Christians are ending up paying the heaviest price
and their very presence in the region, dating back to the time of Christ, is now
in real jeopardy. "He said the different communities across the region need to
consolidate in order to move toward modern states, following the Lebanese model.
“We all should work toward reconciliation among the various components of those
countries and among denominations of the same religion.” “In order for the
countries of the Middle East to enjoy a just, global and lasting peace,” he
continued, “they ought to endeavor to separate religion and the state, and
establish the secular state according to Lebanon's example.”While Lebanon
separates the church and state, he explained, “it pays homage to almighty God
and respect to all religions, as well as to their creeds and personal law.”
Rai arrived at the Vatican Thursday morning on an official visit to participate
in the conference and meet with Pope Francis.
Clashes Erupt in Wadi Hmeid as 3 Suspected of Fighting
against Army Detained in Arsal
Naharnet /Clashes broke out on Friday afternoon between the army and gunmen in
the northeastern border region of Arsal, reported al-Jadeed television. It said
that a number of gunmen were killed and wounded in the unrest in the Wadi Hmeid
area.The army also succeeded in arresting two members of the armed group, while
LBCI television said three were detained. Earlier, the army detained a pickup
truck driver trying to transport wanted Syrians to the neighboring country
through Arsal, media reports said. The army issued a communique saying that “an
army checkpoint arrested at 08:30 pm on Thursday the driver of a Hyundai pickup,
Khaled Deeb al-Krenbi, who didn't hold any identification papers and had in his
possession a gun and its ammo.” “Two Syrians were detained with Krenbi...
Mohammed Abdul Sater and Adullah Mohammed al-Akkouk, who are suspected of
fighting against the army in the region of Arsal.”The army statement said that
the detainees were handed over to the competent authority for legal action
against them. The National News Agency reported earlier that al-Krenbi was
smuggling two wanted “terrorists,” who are reportedly the escorts of Imad Ahmed
Jomaa, a member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Jomaa's arrest
prompted clashes on August 2 between the army and Islamist militants in Arsal,
which left 19 soldiers, 16 civilians, and dozens of jihadists dead. He 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 said that the three men were detained at Ain al-Shaab
army post. The detainees were transferred to the army barracks in Ablah region
and later moved to Beirut for questioning.
Hujeiri Says Situation in Arsal 'Calm', Warns of
Attempts to Involve Army in New Battles Naharnet /Head of Arsal Municipality Ali al-Hujeiri described the
situation in the northeaster town as “calm,” lashing out at attempts to involve
the army in armed clashes by reporting rumors.
“The situation in Arsal is calm and normal, but gunmen remain scattered on the
outskirts of the town,” Hujeiri told al-Liwaa newspaper published on Friday. He
considered that there's a scheme to shove the army into gunbattles and
destabilize the security in Arsal by spreading rumors. Hujeiri expressed belief
that Syrian gunmen “made a mistake the first time they engaged in battles with
the army,” saying: “They will not do the same mistake again.” An army soldier
went missing on Thursday and three others were hurt in fresh clashes with
Islamist gunmen in Arsal's outskirts.
Hujeiri denied in remarks to al-Liwaa “suspicious” reports that the army clashed
with gunmen in the al-Rahweh area. “Thursday's clashes occurred from distance
and 300 to 500 meters away from army posts,” he noted. The Municipality chief
said that the case of the missing soldier “remains mysterious as the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front denied their involvement
“We don't know if he was killed or fled away.” The military said in a statement
that the fighting erupted when an army vehicle with five soldiers on board was
ambushed at around 11:00 am.
The army launched a counter-attack in which one of the soldiers was wounded
while another went missing, it said. Arsal lies 12 kilometers from the border
with Syria and its inhabitants are overwhelmingly sympathetic to the
Sunni-dominated uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and is
widely suspected of smuggling weapons and fighters across the border.
However, the residents of the Bekaa town were angered after jihadists from Syria
attacked their town earlier in August. Troops clashed with Syrian rebels in the
area on August 2 after the army detained a leading jihadist. It ended with a
truce negotiated by Muslim clerics, but the jihadists withdrew from the area
taking 24 policemen and soldiers hostage.
Lebanon's Army arrests militants after brief clash in
The Daily Star/HERMEL, Lebanon: Two militants were arrested Friday after
soldiers briefly clashed with gunmen on the outskirts of the northeastern border
region of Arsal, the Army said. According to the Army statement, soldiers
spotted three militants on board a four-wheel drive Chevrolet in Wadi Hmeid,
prompting an unit to pursue them. Clashes ensued and while the Army was able to
arrest two of the militants, identified as Lebanese Khaled Ammoun and Mohammad
Ezzedine, a third gunman fled. The military said the two arrested were in
possession of two Kalashnikovs, a number of hand grenades and ammunition, as
well as communication devices. A security source told The Daily Star that the
Army shot and killed the third militant who was identified as Rakan Ammoun.
Al-Manar Television said Ammoun was part of a terrorist ring tasked with rigging
vehicles with explosives. He was allegedly behind one of the two car bombings in
Harek Hreik, a neighborhood in Beirut's southern suburbs. Residents in Arsal
said they heard sounds of gun and mortar fire on the outskirts, a day after an
Army unit was ambushed in Al-Rahwe, a remote border village in the region. The
minor clashes came hours after the Army said it had arrested a Lebanese citizen
and two Syrians for their suspected involvement in the five-day deadly fighting
between the military and gunmen from Syria that erupted on Aug. 2.
ISIS and Nusra Front fighters, who took part in the Arsal clashes earlier this
month, are holding 29 soldiers and policemen captured during the fighting. The
radical groups are demanding the release of militant detainees in Roumieh Prison
in exchange for the captives. Government officials said this week that thousands
of gunmen have infiltrated the porous border between Lebanon and Syria, with
Education Minister Elias Bou Saab saying that the country was at war with
The Army has said it was in the process of verifying a video released by an ISIS
fighter showing the beheading of one of the captive soldiers. Ali Sayyed is from
the Akkar village of Fneideq where residents held a protest, urging the
government to secure the release of the hostages
US begins weapon deliveries to Lebanon Army Elise Knutsen| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Friday’s shipment of rocket launchers and assault rifles from the United
States to the Lebanese Army will be followed by unspecified heavy weaponry, U.S.
Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale pledged at a ceremony. The 1,500 M16s and more
than 450 anti-tank rocket launchers delivered by the U.S. military this week
have been financed by American tax dollars, Hale said in a speech made at Rafik
Hariri International Airport. “This weaponry and ordnance is paid for by the
American people,” he said. "Over the coming weeks, more ammunition and more
heavy weaponry will be delivered from the United States to the Army." e
shipments of heavy weapons, which have not yet been detailed publically, will
also be underwritten by the United States, an embassy source confirmed.
Additional weaponry will be delivered by the U.S. army as part of the $1 billion
Saudi grant coordinated by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
While the U.S. has donated billions of dollars in supplies to the Lebanese Army
over the last decade, most previous donations have been nonlethal equipment,
including armored personnel carriers, light aircraft and communication systems.
After clashes between the Army and fighters from the Nusra Front and ISIS
erupted in the border region of Arsal earlier this month, Lebanon said it needed
offensive and defensive equipment to face battle-hardened fighters from Syria.
extremists attacked in Arsal. On Aug. 3, I met with Gen. [Jean] Kahwagi and
asked what America could do to help,” Hale said Friday's ceremony. “We moved to
supply the Army with the weapons and ammunition it asked for and that it needs
to secure Lebanon’s borders and defeat these extremist groups that threaten
Lebanese Brig. Gen. Manuel Kirejian said that the battles in Arsal had been “the
most dangerous encounter” with terrorists in Lebanon recently, and that the
militants “are scheming to set the fire of sectarian strife throughout our
country."“We consider the United States’ constant support to the Army in the
form of weapons and equipment, as well as the support granted by Arab
[states]... a clear and unmistakable commitment to boost the Army’s
capabilities,” Kirejian said. “Long live the Lebanese-American friendship.”
Hezbollah: Libya responsible for neglecting Sadr’s case The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah Friday blamed the Libyan
governments that succeeded Moammar Gadhafi for neglecting the case of the
missing Shiite Imam Musa Sadr. “The crime of Imam Musa Sadr’s disappearance is
the responsibility of the criminal that has committed it, whose page has been
closed by history forever,” said the statement, in reference to the late Gadhafi.
“And [responsibility] also falls on the Libyan governments that succeeded the
revolution in the country, who also have not taken any action yet,” added the
statement, that was released prior to the 36th anniversary of Sadr’s
Describing Sadr as the “Imam of resistance, dialogue, openness and moderation,”
Hezbollah’s statement said his stands and principles were particularly needed
nowadays. “This tragedy is one of the saddest and most painful in the history of
our nation and our people, because of the great oppression that first targeted
the Imam and his two companions and then their nation, people, families and
righteous causes,” the statement continued. Sadr, the founder of Amal Movement -
now headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri - went missing during a visit to
Libya on Aug. 31, 1978, along with his two companions - Sheikh Mohammad Yacoub
and journalist Abbas Badreddine. His disappearance caused a rift between Lebanon
and the regime of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, which continuously
denied any involvement in Sadr's disappearance, maintaining that he had left
Libya for Italy. Conflicting reports about Sadr’s fate circulated following
Gadhafi’s downfall, with one report claiming Sadr was killed on Gadhafi’s orders
and buried in a mass grave outside Tripoli.
Lebanon minister vows to pay municipalities telecoms
revenue The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon will soon transfer overdue
telecoms revenue to municipalities, the finance minister pledged Friday, while
calling into question millions in missing revenues.
to distributing the accumulating funds to the municipalities and we will
continue demanding answers and seeking accountability for those who neglected to
grant the municipalities their lawful rights,” Ali Hasan Khalil told reporters
in a news conference at his ministry. “The municipalities should be confident
that we, as politicians and officials in the government, will secure your right
to access the funds.”
While 10 percent of the government's telecoms revenue is designated to go to
municipalities, local officials have complained for decades that they weren't
receiving the full amount. Successive telecoms and finance ministers have traded
blame in recent years, with several Cabinet decrees being issued to release the
funds. Last year, then-Telecoms Minister Nicholas Sehnaoui said that some funds
were still witheld after the Cabinet ordered $1.2 billion to be distributed to
the municipalities. Khalil said Friday that he was in the process of drafting a
similar decree this year.
edly requesting that the Telecoms Ministry provide the Finance Ministry with a
detailed report about the revenues designated for the municipalities, he only
received the report in July 2014. “The accumulated revenues for the
municipalities now stand at LL673 billion from the start of 2010 to the end of
March 2014,” he said. “From 2003 to 2009, the revenues were estimated at LL685
billion. This amount was apparently transferred as telecoms revenues to the
Finance Ministry without designating it to the municipalities.” Khalil said the
Finance Ministry had no clue “what the amount was or what had happened” to the
revenues that should have been transferred to the municipalities between 1993
and 2002. He said that the amount most likely had gone to the state treasury
instead, noting that the government was now indebted to municipalities due to
the failures of previous ministries.
Lebanon's ISF to sue local journalist for defamation The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Internal Security Forces Friday said
it would file a lawsuit against a Lebanese journalist who criticized the
security agency for the way it prevented a street vendor from working, which the
agency said was part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal workers. “The general
directorate of the Internal Security Forces will file a lawsuit against the
writer of the article for defamation and slander,” the agency said in a
statement, referring to an article published by local daily As-Safir on Friday.
Ghassan Rifi, the writer of the article, led his story with a sarcastic
statement about how an eight-member ISF unit carried out a "quality operation"
and cordoned off the premises where a Syria vendor was selling grapes. "Bassam
is not a wanted [individual] or a terrorist, he is a refugee roaming the streets
of Tripoli with a cart, selling grapes, so that he could spend what he makes on
his 10 children,” he wrote. The writer criticized the ISF's move, saying police
officers lashed out in a “militia-style way” when people approached them in an
attempt to settle the issue and console the crying vendor. In its statement, the
police force said the vendor had entered Lebanon under a refugee status and that
he was receiving aid from international organizations, which prevented him from
working on Lebanese territory. “The work of the ISF was part of a wider campaign
to crackdown on street vendors given that they are unlicensed and directly
compete with legal vendors nearby,” the statement said. "Moreover the crackdown
on street vendors is a popular demand by Lebanese who have grown fearful in
light of the current security situation.”It also said that the grapes that were
confiscated were given to a charity organization in Tripoli. The ISF denied it
had confiscated one of the reporters’ phones to delete pictures, while saying no
one had the right to videotape ISF member on duty.
EDL Managers Say They Are Not Responsible for Work Stoppage Naharnet/Electricite du Liban announced on Friday that the
state-run firm's managers have informed the director general that they were not
responsible for the repercussions of the work stoppage caused by the contract
workers' strike. The managers sent Director General Kamal al-Hayek a memo
stating they were “banned” from carrying out their duties at the company's
headquarters in Beirut’s Mar Mikhael district. “We are incapable of carrying out
practical tasks outside our offices to guarantee the supply of electricity and
provide services to customers,” they said. “Consequently, we are not responsible
for any work stoppage inside the institution amid the occupation of the central
building” by the contract workers, the managers added. The workers have gone on
an open-ended strike and on several occasions blocked roads and mainly the
highway near the company’s HQ to push for the full-time employment of almost
2,000 of them. But the company's board of directors has claimed that a law,
which adopted by parliament in April, only allows 897 workers to become full-timbers.The
protesters have also erected tents and locked most offices at EDL's
headquarters. On Monday, they stopped the firm's employees from reporting back
to work despite calls by the board of directors on security forces to escort the
staff and ensure their safety while entering and leaving their offices. Al-Hayek
and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian described their protest as a “riot.” The EDL
employees syndicate called on Friday for a three-day strike starting September 1
to pressure the workers into opening the doors of the company and guarantee the
access of staff members.
Muslim Scholars Committee Says 'Can't Confirm or Deny'
Reports of Sergeant's Beheading Naharnet/The Muslim Scholars Committee, who was tasked with
negotiating with jihadist fighters on the case of troops abducted during the
Arsal clashes on the border with Syria, could not deny or confirm on Friday
reports about the slaughtering of an army sergeant who hails from the northern
Akkar town of Fneideq. The Committee said in a statement that it cannot confirm
or deny anything about “circulated images of a Lebanese soldier being
executed.”The statement explained that its uncertain stance in this regard stems
from the “the suspension of negotiations with the jihadist fighters and the lack
of direct communication with the kidnappers.” "We urge media outlets not to
adopt any reports except those issued by the Committee and published on its
official webpage,” the Muslim Scholars Committee stressed.
But the father of Ali al-Sayyed, the army member who's reportedly featured in
the video, told LBCI television that the Committee has confirmed the sergeant's
We blame the army leadership and the cabinet, he added. The sergeant's uncle
also confirmed to al-Jadeed television the death of his nephew, assuring that
al-Sayyed is the person featured in images circulated on social media platforms.
"We have been reaching out to concerned authorities for a month to solve the
issue of the kidnapped soldiers, although kidnappers had sent a video tape to
the cabinet for the sake of negotiations and in which al-Sayyed appears, but
nothing happened,” he expressed. "We wonder why the government did not negotiate
with the abductors,” he said.
"All countries get involved in talks to free their captives,” he noted.
Prominent figures in Fneideq demanded the cabinet and the Army Command “to work
seriously to deny or confirm whether the circulated images are reliable to
update al-Sayyed's parents on the situation of their son.” "We hold the cabinet
fully responsible for the neglect in the case of the abducted troops and for not
respecting the dignity of their parents,” they declared. On Thursday, an alleged
Islamic State militant calling himself Abu Musaab Hafid al-Baghdadi posted
pictures on his Twitter account that show him cutting off the head of a
blindfolded man with a medium beard. He identifies the supposed victim as “Ali
al-Sayyed, an apostate soldier belonging to the 'army of the cross' (Lebanese
The militant says the purported execution is in response to “the attempts of the
'party of Satan' (Hizbullah) to torpedo the negotiations” over the captive
Lebanese soldiers and policemen who were abducted after jihadists overran the
Bekaa border town of Arsal on August 2. The unconfirmed reports of al-Sayyed's
beheading sparked protests and road blocking in Akkar on Thursday.
And on Friday morning, protesters continued to block roads in Akkar and the
Akkar plains with burned tires to protest the reports. Jihadists from the IS and
the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front kidnapped 36 army troops and Internal Security
Forces members and took them to Arsal's outskirts as they withdrew from the town
following several days of deadly clashes that started on August 2. Al-Nusra for
its part posted a video featuring eight ISF members and an army soldier as the
fate of the other security personnel remained unclear.
Who will vote for the Lebanese president? By: Nayla Tueni/Al Arabiya
Friday, 29 August 2014
The suggestion to hold Lebanese presidential elections via the direct vote of
the people raises questions on the fairness of the situation which some aim to
impose. It also raises questions about the great Lebanese people who will choose
the president without submitting to many different pressures. Which set of
people do you want to cast their votes to elect a new president?
There are people who take orders from politicians and security figures and who
work against their interests and the interests of their country and accept to
sell their votes and dignity for just a few dollars.
They are also the people who accepted dealing with the Israelis at one point and
with the Palestinians at another or with the Syrians and thus submitted to all
the tutelages which struck the country at its very core. “The pressures
besieging the Lebanese people force them to submit to unacceptable conditions”
They are the people who agree to participate in the wars of others by either
dragging these wars into the country or by willingly leaving the country to
participate in them. They thus involve Lebanon and its people in a war they have
no interest in and one that only serves the interests of regional countries.
They are the people who await a fatwa (religious edict) that specifies what is
allowed and what is prohibited when voting and thus fail to make their choices
clear until the last minute. They fought and killed one another over the
duration of 15 years and they do not learn from their experiences but repeat
them over and over again. They are the people who support the Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria out of spite of others or who follow velayat-e-faqih without
considering their partners in the country.
The Lebanese people
What about the naturalized citizens who hail from outside the country and don’t
consider any Lebanese national values and who are still controlled by foreign
parties? Applications appealing their citizenship have been put away for years
and have not been looked into. So will these naturalized citizens be among those
who will also vote for a president? Or maybe we’ will end up depending on them
as they do not stoop to the levels the Lebanese people do. All of this does not
degrade the Lebanese people as they are knowledgeable, educated, smart, creative
and staunch defenders with a conscience who hail from country that is cradle of
human civilization in several fields. However, many times, the pressures
besieging the Lebanese people force them to submit to unacceptable conditions
and to regional, sectarian and religious considerations. This eventually
destroys their every desire to develop, change and reform. Therefore, change
becomes a difficult and complicated process that cannot be suggested by one
party. It can be the fruit of national dialogue and we hope that this subject is
addressed in a national dialogue conference instead of wasting time on what is
Zahle Prison Guards Foil Attempt to Smuggle Hashish to
Facility Naharnet /Security guards at the prison of Zahle foiled yet again
an attempt by a visitor to smuggle a quantity of hashish to an inmate. The
National News Agency reported on Friday that the 20 grams of hashish were packed
in a halva box. Such smuggling attempts are frequent in Lebanese prisons as
visitors get creative when it comes to smuggling narcotics. Some have hidden
hashish in cucumbers, apricots, toothpaste, meat pastries, sandwiches, pistachio
shells and other foods.
Iran’s foreign policy is shifting By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 29 Aug, 2014
At the same time it was revealed that Iran had decided to keep Gen. Qassem
Suleimani away from the Iraqi file and instead assign to him the Syrian one, the
president of Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, revealed that Tehran had
provided the Kurdish forces with weapons and ammunition to face the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). How can one explain this decision?
It is clear that this step has many implications, one of which is Iran’s
re-evaluation of its policy in Iraq. Yet this will not necessarily lead to a
more positive outcome. Moreover, limiting Suleimani to the Syria file helps
explain Iran’s view of the crisis there. Remarkably, Iran has supplied Iraq’s
Kurds with weapons despite the disputes that existed between them and Tehran’s
number-one man, Nuri Al-Maliki.
Moreover, the decision came despite Iran’s fears of Kurdish intentions to
achieve further autonomy from Iraq, an ambition which poses a threat to Tehran,
Ankara and Damascus. This means that Iran is adopting a new approach towards
Iraq based on a more open policy towards not only Shi’ites, but also the
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The aim, of course, is to contain the
Suleimani’s transfer to Syria proves his sectarian plan in Iraq has been a
failure. Having realized that the battle in Iraq against ISIS was being fought
by Sunnis, the US and the international community, Iran decided to invest in the
battle by seeking a rapprochement with the Kurds. The sudden decision to arm the
Kurds revealed how worried Iran was, but how flexible its decision-making can be
as well. KRG President Barzani said: “Iran was the first country to supply us
with weapons and ammunition.” That is, Tehran took the step of arming the Kurds
before hesitant Washington and the busy Arabs.
Iran’s decision to move Suleimani to Syria clearly indicated that Tehran’s
policy towards Syria and Iraq was going through a stage of re-positioning.
Tasking him with the Syrian file meant that Suleimani had failed in Iraq and
that Iran did not see a political solution in Syria for the time being, with its
most important aim being to protect Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad militarily,
particularly after losing Maliki.
Another important aspect is that Tehran is using the Houthis to heat up the
situation in Yemen in order to place pressures on Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf
states. All this indicates that now is the right time to move against ISIS in
Syria and to strengthen the Free Syrian Army (FSA) by providing it with
sophisticated weapons in order to take advantage of Iran’s confusion over the
intersecting events in the region. The best example of the region’s chaotic
situation is Iraq, where a Sunni uprising, ISIS’s terror activities and US
intervention, are all taking place simultaneously.
Accordingly, if the US and the West seriously intervene in Syria to fight ISIS,
and if the FSA receives true support in the form of sophisticated weapons, we
will witness another Iranian re-positioning in Syria, which may result in the
departure of Assad. What we should remember well is that Iran is good at
escalating the situation, but retreats from confrontations. This is not to
mention its mastery of the tactic of making concessions in the face of storms.
Allocating the Syrian file to Suleimani is nothing but a re-positioning of
In the Arab world, Frankenstein’s monster turns on its
By: Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya
Friday, 29 August 2014
A bloodthirsty bunch of crazed head-hunters are on the rampage in Syria and Iraq
and not only threaten to disperse their poisonous ideology throughout the Middle
East region but also to Western capitals. Sounds like a bad fairy-tale doesn’t
it, except there is no fairy godmother in this story to banish this bloodthirsty
horde. This is real and it is happening. And what are the self-appointed
guardians of our world doing about it other than dropping bombs here and there
to defend their own interests, issuing threats and distributing care packages?
Are we seriously to believe the explosive conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and
what remains of the Libyan state are mere happenstance? Or could it be that a
grand plan to destabilize the region using extremists is underway so as to
slice-up Arab countries into easily manipulated weak entities whose natural
resources will be ripe for plunder?
I believe “scientists” in suits bore a creature that was nurtured and assisted
to develop its murderous skills in the same way that al-Qaeda was born and is
now known as ISIS. But the creature grew so militarily, financially and
ideologically powerful that it now threatens its creators’ existence; a monster
that is terrorizing the world with inhuman atrocities under the banner of Islam,
the religion of tolerance and peace.
The reptilian creature, that’s announced a caliphate across northern Syria and
Iraq with its sights set towards Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has shed its
skin and is now spewing its venom against its masters. It was manufactured in
Syria as a Western tool to jeopardize the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) growing
popularity throughout the Arab World and its honorable cause with the result
Assad’s initially fictitious argument that he’s battling terrorists has been
The slaughter paraded on our screens, perpetrated by masked men driving around
in identical brand new Humvees, are not the work of amateurs. And neither is the
serpent’s propaganda machine which uses sophisticated messages on social media
to reach out to vulnerable, gullible or disaffected young Muslims in the U.S.
and Europe who view the establishment of a caliphate as an affirmation of their
identity whereas a caliphate built on rivers of blood, mountains of severed
heads and girls sold as slaves is nothing but an evil abomination.
There is evidence to suggest it was covertly trained by the regional and Western
powers, which abandoned the legitimate opposition, the brave men of the Free
Syrian Army. Had the Leader of the Free World, President Obama, done the right
thing several years ago by heeding the just demands of the FSA, tens of
thousands of Syrian and Iraqi lives would have been saved, the American
journalist would have been spared and the region and beyond wouldn’t be facing
this menace. The FSA didn’t ask Obama for boots on the ground or to engage in a
full scale war against the regime. He was merely requested to provide the FSA
with air cover, heavy weapons and ammunition to assist its fight. But no,
Western weapons mysteriously found their way into the hands of extremists like
Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS which turned their guns on the FSA.
The U.S. president should be thoroughly probed by a congressional committee for
his role in worsening the carnage in Syria and for fomenting the sectarian
conflicts and lawlessness plaguing the Middle East. His intervention in Libya
has brought division and destruction; his failure to respond to appeals for
assistance from the Iraqi government last year has resulted in black flags
fluttering over one third of the country. Moreover, his support of the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt over the will of the Egyptian people would have ignited a
bloody civil war if the people and the army weren’t united. Congress should
investigate whether or not his actions or non-actions were in keeping with U.S.
interests and the real reasons behind his seeming support for religious
extremists over moderates.
“The governments of the UK and France should be placed under a microscope for
acting as America’s mini-me’s on foreign policy”
Khalaf Ahmad al- Habtoor
Furthermore, how can one explain the sudden flirtation between Iran and the West
when for decades the United Nations, the U.S. and Europe have applied
anti-Iranian sanctions to no real effect. If Iran had been an Arab country, I’ve
no doubt in my mind that it would have been invaded long ago to remove the
threat, even without concrete proof that it was, indeed, developing a nuclear
weapons capability, as we witnessed when “shock and awe” was delivered to Iraq.
The governments of the UK and France should also be placed under a microscope
for acting as America’s mini-me’s on foreign policy. They have spectacularly
failed at tamping down on the monster’s recruiting drives. The British press, in
particular, is packed with news about jihadists openly touting their ideology on
high streets, in universities and via UK-based media outlets; they’ve even been
handing out leaflets on London’s Oxford Street but rather than face arrest, the
police announced they needed to check on what laws may have been broken!
The BBC regularly interviews young British Muslims praising the so-called
caliphate. At least 500 – some say the figure is near 2,000 – British citizens,
apparently including would-be Jihadist brides, have travelled to Syria to
take-up arms targeting Sunnis who reject ideological slavery as well as
Christians and other minorities. Hundreds more have flocked there from the U.S.,
Canada and Australia. ISIS welcomed over 6,000 new recruits in July alone,
including 1,100 foreigners. The idea is catching on. Boko Haram has announced
its own caliphate in an area of Nigeria. Where next?
Anyone with even half a brain cannot fail to wonder why no firm action has been
taken to prevent this tide, which will sooner or later return to hit Western
shores with a violent tsunami of cataclysmic proportions, under the pretense of
free expression and respect for individual freedoms. Former UK Foreign Minister
Kim Howells believes home grown terrorists may be planning a spectacular attack
on the NATO summit to be held in Cardiff next month.
Why are terrorists boasting of their exploits or encouraging their children to
proudly display severed heads on the internet being given a free pass when
purveyors of child pornography are so easily be rounded up, not to mention
celebrities accused of crimes committed thirty years ago?
A question that demands urgent answering is this: Are the implosions and
explosions throughout the Arab world caused by internal circumstances or random
acts of fate - or have they been deliberately orchestrated by unseen hands? I’ve
come to my own conclusions; I’ll leave you to ponder on yours.
Will Israel attack Iran’s nuclear
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
Friday, 29 August 2014
Footage of an alleged unmanned Israeli aerial drone was broadcast by Iran’s
state media agency Tasnim this week. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)
Aerospace Force claims that it intercepted and shot down the Israeli stealth
drone that was flying in Iranian airspace before it had reached the nuclear
facility and uranium enrichment site in the city of Natanz. This is not the
first incident where Iranian leaders believe that Israel has attempted to thwart
its nuclear program. Tehran previously accused Israel of being behind the
assassinations of several of its nuclear scientists and physicists. Israeli
officials have rejected those accusations.
Regarding this recent development, Israeli officials have refused to comment on
the drone, pointing out that the military does “not address foreign media
Natanz is considered to be the central location, Iran’s main uranium enrichment
site, with approximately 16,000 centrifuges. The underground uranium enrichment
facility at Fordow, which is hidden in a mountain and which was disclosed in
late 2009, has an estimated 3000 centrifuges.
“In case of any serious threat, the senior cadre of the IRGC believe that it can
create a “nightmare” for Israel”
Israel has previously threatened to carry out attacks against Iran’s nuclear
installations. Nevertheless, the major dilemma is whether Israel would
realistically attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.
As usual, Iranian officials have responded strongly, with the IRGC issuing a
statement: “A spy drone of the Zionist regime (Israel) was brought down by a
missile... This stealth drone was trying to approach the Natanz nuclear zone.
This act demonstrates a new adventurism by the Zionist regime... The
Revolutionary Guard and the other armed forces reserve the right to respond to
In case of any serious threat, the senior cadre of the IRGC believe that it can
create a “nightmare” for Israel. Considering the recent allegation, Brigadier
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Aerospace Force of Iran’s
Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, stated that the response from the Islamic
Republic would be a “deadly nightmare” for Israel.
The timing of this incidence is intriguing as it coincides with the progress
that the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 (Russia, the United States, Britain,
China, France, and Germany) are making towards the final steps of reaching a
comprehensive nuclear deal.
Israeli leaders believe that the agreement will leave the Islamic Republic with
the path to reach nuclear capabilities and build a nuclear bomb. Both Iran and
Israel are considered enemies, and Israel views Iran as an existential threat.
Unintended consequences: regional conflagration
Israel does have the military capability to strike the Islamic Republic’s
nuclear installations. Nevertheless, for several reasons, it is very unlikely
that Israel will unilaterally carry out strikes against Iran’s nuclear
First of all, Israeli leaders are cognizant of the fact that any strikes aimed
at Iran’s nuclear installations will not completely thwart Iran’s nuclear
program. The strikes might turn the clock a few years back and postpone the
process for Iran to become a nuclear state or build an atomic bomb, but an
Israeli attack will give further incentive to Iran to pursue its nuclear
ambitions with more determination. Even several senior Israeli security and
military officials have admitted that any Israeli attack on Iran will boost
Iran’s determination to build a bomb, and will endanger Israel’s own survival.
Second, an external Israeli attack on Iran will rally the Iranian people behind
their government for their right of nuclear enrichment. It will also grant the
hardliners firmer motive to reach the nuclear threshold with full-fledged speed.
Thirdly, the Islamic Republic will likely decline to cooperate with the
international community as well as pull out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
As a result, the unintended repercussions and negative consequences of an
Israeli attack- such as Iran becoming more determined to accelerate its nuclear
program- do outweigh the delay that the strikes might impose on Iran’s nuclear
Difficult to predict
While it might be easy to start a war or carry out strikes, it is almost
impossible to know where the war will head afterwards. In case Iran responds
militarily, few strikes can turn the region into a conflagration affecting many
lives of ordinary civilians, the Gulf (with the price of oil skyrocketing and
price of gasoline increasing in Western countries), and impacting the security
of other regional countries. The war can not only endanger regional security,
but also Israel’s own security, and drag in global powers, including the United
States and Russia. According to polls, many Israeli citizens are against their
country attacking Iran unilaterally. Finally, although Israeli leaders believe
that the Obama administration has not been firm enough in terms of thwarting
Iran’s ambition to reach a nuclear threshold, Israel is in fact dependent on the
United States when it comes to dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. In the case
of a military response from Iran, and considering Israel’s regional security and
geopolitical affairs, Israel is in need of the United States. On the other hand,
the Obama administration's foreign policies towards Iran’s nuclear program have
been clear: the administration has avoided considering a military option against
the Islamic Republic. In addition, the U.S. still contends that all diplomatic
venues have not been exhausted. Considering the aforementioned factors and
realistically speaking, it will be unlikely for Israel carry out any attacks
against Iran’s nuclear installations.
A new Junblatt twist for presidential
elections Dumps his candidate Helou in favour of Jean Obaid
By Joseph A. Kechichian Senior Writer
Published: 14:40 August 29, 2014
Beirut: Walid Junblatt, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and
Druze za‘im [lord] seems to have abandoned his own candidate for the presidency,
Aley deputy Henri Helou, in favour of former Minister Jean Obaid. The surprising
proposal, according to the pro-Hezbollah Al Akhbar daily, clarified Junblatt’s
muddled stance. “I still back the name of Henry Helou as my first choice,”
Junblatt allegedly told his visitors, though he underscored that the PSP and
others would “eventually have to settle on the name of a consensual nominee
after [Lebanese Forces Leader] Samir Geagea and [Free Patriotic Movement chief]
Michel Aoun withdraw their candidacies.” Geagea, the March 14 nominated
candidate, offered to withdraw in favour of another March 14 personality whereas
Aoun — who has not declared as of today — was mum to these latest verbal
acrobatics. Why the Druze leader believed that Obaid could gather political
arch-foes around his potential candidacy was not explained although Aoun brushed
him off during their last meeting. Ironically, Junblatt’s latest permutation
occurred less than 24 hours after he proposed an equally confused solution to
break the current stalemate.
On Thursday, the Mukhtara za‘im suggested a “one-time constitutional amendment
to shorten the presidential term to three years in exchange for electing a
president from outside the March 8 and March 14 political coalitions.” This
nugget that perceived the constitution as a convenient smorgesboard that can be
twisted for the conveniences of the moment was revealed by The Daily Star.
According to the pro-March 14 English-language daily, Speaker Nabih Berri found
merit in the idea, and even welcomed an equally untested “modern law” to hold
parliamentary elections to improve the country’s democratic representation. Both
men rejected the extension of parliament’s mandate that ends on November 20,
2014, before an agreement could be reached on the presidential election, though
chances were near excellent that such a prolongation was the most logical way
out of this self-created dilemma.
Interestingly, Al Akhbar further asserted that neither Bkirke [the seat of the
Maronite Patriarchate] nor Sa’ad Hariri’s Future Movement vetoed a putative
Obaid election, without informing its readers how it managed to know these
Others jumped into the change - the constitution bandwagon, as General Michel
Aoun proposed his own adjustment for direct elections of the president in 2
stages, while the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bisharah Rai called for his
own modification to keep the outgoing president in power in a caretaker status
until such time when a successor was elected.
This measure was meant to avoid a vacuum in the country’s top Christian post
although it was unclear whether such a measure could be retroactive to bring
back former President Michel Sulaiman, whose six-year tenure ended on May 25.
Earlier, Hezbollah advanced the notion that the time was right to hold a fresh
constitutional convention, ostensibly to re-write the entire document and
re-arrange the 1943 national charter.
While just about everyone toyed with the country’s enduring Constitution, what
was truly ironic was the fact that so few parliamentarians and the country’s
brilliant legal minds, wished to implement any of its articles. Few expected a
felicitous outcome on September 2, when a solid majority of deputies were slated
to stay away from parliament, thereby neglecting their constitutional duties to
form a quorum and cast ballots.
No Room for Shades of Grey
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 29 Aug, 2014
Like most events in history, the current crisis in Iraq has had several
unintended consequences which are likely to impact regional politics for some
time to come. On the ideological front, the emergence of the so-called Islamic
State and its “caliphate” has highlighted the tragicomic aspect of political
narratives built around pseudo-religious themes.
The inflation in the number of pretenders to “supreme leadership” in the name of
Islam has led to a drastic devaluation of each individual claim. Mullah Mohammed
Omar in Afghanistan, Ali Khamenei in Iran, Abubakar Shekau in Nigeria, Ayman Al-Zawahiri
(possibly somewhere in the Pakistani badlands), and, last and least, Abu Bakr
Al-Baghdadi, all pretend to be leader of the Ummah (Islamic community) simply
because they have some guns and money at their disposal, albeit some more than
others. However, today, each pretender appears less credible than before the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or “Da’esh” in Arabic, started its
killing spree in Mosul.
Long-time campaigners for the revival of the caliphate, notably Hizb Ut-Tahrir,
have refrained from endorsing any of the rival pretenders, while the talk in
Afghanistan’s radical Islamist circles is about elbowing Mullah Omar aside to
allow genuine peace talks to start with the future government in Kabul. In
Nigeria, Shekau’s proclamation of a “caliphate” has not secured unanimous
support among rival bands peddling militant Islam. Even in Iran, the possibility
that the “Supreme Guide” may not really be that supreme is now evoked in public
by some of Khamenei’s former close associates.
On the political front, the Iraq crisis has shown that building a new system is
not as easy as many had thought. Iraq has gone through all the steps needed to
build a consensual political system. That, however, has not put an end to
despotic tendencies that seem to have lodged themselves in the nation’s
political genes. It is clear that without some level of popular support, ISIS
would not have been able to install itself with such relative ease.
From a moral standpoint, the ISIS experience has exploded another myth,
according to which recourse to extreme violence is a result of poverty and
hunger. The ISIS crowds don’t seem to be short of money and certainly don’t look
as if they have missed a meal. As already noted, the group’s leaders also seem
to have a taste for luxuries, including Swiss watches.
On a broader cultural front, the Iraqi crisis has punctured the myth that Muslim
communities in Western democracies would, by some unspecified means and at some
unspecified time, act as vehicles for exporting enlightenment to the Muslim
world, which is supposed to be flailing blindly in the dark.
The experience of ISIS and kindred groups shows the opposite. Far from exporting
“enlighteners” to the Middle East, Muslim communities in Western democracies are
sending experts in cutting the throats of unarmed captives. According to Western
intelligence estimates, ISIS now has a total force of around 17,000 men of which
fewer than 5,000 are believed to be Iraqis, mostly leftovers from Saddam
Hussein’s Presidential Guard. The rest are self-styled “ghazis” from more than
30 countries across the globe, including over 3,000 from the European Union and
North America. One could observe a similar pattern with the Taliban in
Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Yemen’s Al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Some of the “Western” Muslims who travel to Islamic countries to do a bit of
“ghazva” have gained military experience by serving in European and/or North
American armies. They have a high profile in managing the propaganda machines of
self-styled jihadist gangs.
Interestingly, much of the propaganda material, including pamphlets and video
footage, used by these enemies of humanity is produced in the West, especially
in Geneva, Brussels and, of course, London and Birmingham. Obsessed with
multiculturalism, Western Europe has become a breeding ground for evil groups
that threaten peace and stability in several Muslim countries.
On the geopolitical front, some of the local bad guys, including the Assad gang
in Syria, the hardline sections of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey, and
the Tehran mullahs are trying to improve their image by offering to help the
West fight “terrorism” in the Middle East. Tehran is even offering to send its
Lebanese Hezbollah units to help the Iraqi Kurds fight the forces of “Caliph”
Abu Bakr (aka Ibrahim)
Assad’s volunteering to fight the so-called “jihadists” is especially
interesting because it was his regime that offered them safe haven and secure
passage into Iraq between 2003 and 2010. Even now, many Iraqi bad guys,
including Saddam’s number-two Izzat Al-Douri, are believed to be operating from
areas that Assad still controls in Syria.
Making alliances with some bad guys to fight even worse characters is nothing
new in history. However, the consequences of such alliances are always hard to
gauge. In the case of Assad’s application for a job fighting “terrorists,” we
must bear in mind an important point, elaborated by Aristotle in his Ethics: by
siding with one evil against another evil, one risks becoming partly evil
The Middle East is confronting a wide range of evil forces of which ISIS is the
latest, and in my opinion, the most vicious to date. Any alliance with other
evil forces to fight ISIS would amount to an implicit admission that the Middle
East is doomed to live with one form of barbarity or another.
However, a coalition of vital forces in the region, including traditionalists
and aspiring democrats, would enjoy a more solid popular base and would thus
have a better chance of defeating those who wish to return the region to the
dark ages. Our choice is not limited to different shades of evil.
No victory photos from Gaza Shimon Shiffer/08.29.14, 18:39 /Ynetnews
Op-ed: Hamas is left with some 6,000 rockets, a functioning military wing and
many more terror tunnels; Israel faces all of these with passive defense
strategy after yielding on offensive initiatives that could have prevented
future attacks on us.
"It was a minor war," said one of Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's closest
advisors on Thursday. So don’t expect a reconstruction of the famous Six Day War
image where Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, and Uzi Narkiss walked proudly in the
old city of Jerusalem towards the Wailing Wall, because in minor wars there are
no victory photos.
In this war each will have to choose its own photos and heroes. For me it's the
tragic photo of the rocket fire at Kibbutz Nirim that took the lives of the
Kibbutz's security chief and his deputy shortly before the ceasefire went into
Netanyahu, for his part, is trying to shove photos of himself and his two
campaign partners, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
down the public's throat. Only time will tell whether this is the picture that
will be engraved in our collective memory from Operation Protective Edge: The
three leaders who achieved absolutely nothing. Should an independent
investigation committee be established to probe the conduct of the operation in
Gaza, its members should check first how Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz knew that
Hamas was planning to drag Israel into a war in July, guessed that the
organization would repeat its strategic maneuvers from Operation Pillar of
Defense and in the end, couldn't have been more wrong?
This is the reason that the IAF dropped thousands of bombs on targets in the
Gaza Strip, bur failed to bring down Hamas.
In addition, Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz are bragging about the crushing blow
Hamas has suffered, but the bottom line is that the terror organization is left
with some 6,000 rockets, a military wing whose commanders managed to survive and
God knows how many more terror tunnels. Israel is facing all of these with a
passive defense strategy under Iron Dome, after yielding, almost completely, on
offensive initiatives that could have prevented these wild attacks on us.
As far as Netanyahu's concerned, the picture is completely different: He claims
that Hamas "got nothing" and that all the organization's demands were rejected
by the Israeli side. Perhaps that's true, but since we are tallying up a summary
of wins and loses, the big question here is what did we get? And the answer is
grim: dozens of mortalities, hundreds of casualties, billions of dollars worth
of damages and the mass abandonment of residents along the Gaza border
Meaning, if we use Netanyahu's words, we also "got nothing". And the reason for
that is that we demanded nothing: no demilitarization, no destruction of all
tunnels, we barely asked for calm. The international community is now raising
money to rehabilitate Gaza, but who will pay for the damage done to Israel? We
are, through tax increases, or via budget cuts in education and health. Adding
to the sense of despair, in recent days Netanyahu has been focusing on the
political horizon, as if there is a chance that Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas will ever replace Khaled Mashal in Gaza. It's the same as always; just as
he was forced, against his will, to accept Reuven Rivlin as president and Karnit
Flug as Governor of the Central Bank, he will have to get used to negotiating
with Mashal, whether he likes it or not. So, what is going to happen here
in the near future? Again, using Netanyahu's own words "nothing". The prime
minister will do whatever he can to avoid the international community's equation
of returning to the pre-1967 borders in return for the Arab countries'
recognition of Israel.
And this is the harsh part of the war story's finale': We have entered into a
period of great and dangerous uncertainty. If the Military Intelligence
Directorate will present Netanyahu and Ya'alon information regarding Hamas
efforts to manufacture rockets and build terror tunnels, will they admit that
they prefer to stay quiet and keep down?