August 31/14


Bible Quotation for today/Evil Acts Fall Back on its Doer
Sirach 28/25-30: "Who casts a stone on high casts it on his own head; and a deceitful stroke shall make wounds. Who digs a pit shall fall in it: and he that sets a trap shall be taken in it. He that works mischief, it shall fall upon him, and he shall not know when it comes. Mockery and reproach are from the proud; but vengeance, as a lion, shall lie in wait for them. They that rejoice at the fall of the righteous shall be taken in the snare; and anguish shall consume them before they die. Malice and wrath, even these are abominations; and the sinful man shall have them both.


Question: "Since God does not forgive until a person confesses/repents, does that mean we can withhold forgiveness from those who sin against us until they confess/repent?"


Pope Francis's Tweet For Today

The Lord always forgives us and walks at our side.  We have to let him do that

Pape François

Le Seigneur nous pardonne toujours et nous accompagne toujours. À nous de nous laisser pardonner et de nous laisser accompagner


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 30 & 31/14

The threat of ISIS demands a global coalition/John Kerry /Al Arabiya/August  31/14

Biden’s Gift to ISIS/By: Wafiq Al-Samarrai/August 31/14

The trend of criticizing political Islam/By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/August 31/14
Three Stories of Jihadist Incitement/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/August 30 & 31/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 30 & 31/14

Lebanon busts 14 forging passports for terror groups
Rifi: Those burning ISIS flags should be prosecuted
Hale promises Army more arms as U.S. weapons arrive
Syrian jets bomb border region with Lebanon

Nusra Front releases five Lebanese troops

U.S. weapons flown in to help the Army
Relatives of Army Captives Block Roads as Salam Reveals Newly Formed Cell to 'End Tragedy'

Mashnouq Warns: Syrian Refugees at Risk if Arsal Captives Harmed
Lebanon Plunges in Darkness as EDL, Contract Workers Rift Increases

Kidnappers Demand 1 Million Dollars to Release Kuwaiti National

Rifi Demands Legal Action against Arsonists who Torched ISIL Flag

Passports, Currency Forging Network Busted in Zahle

Salam Urges Unity in Fight against Jihadists  

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 30 & 31/14

Movement across Gaza crossings remain slow: official

Abbas devises plan for independent Palestinian state: official

GCC agrees to honor commitments on regional security

Iran says new US curbs conflict with spirit of nuclear talks

Saudi King Abdullah warns of global terror threat

Iraq: Sadr calls for new regional foreign policy

Saudi king: Islamic State will reach ‘Europe in a month and America in another month


Rifi criticized over response to burning of ISIS flag
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The justice’s minister’s call to prosecute individuals who burned the ISIS flag in Beirut has come under heavy fire Saturday with one MP offering to be the perpetrators' lawyer should the case make it to court.  A picture of three boys burning ISIS and Nusra Front flags printed on two large billboards circulated on social media Saturday morning. The incident took place in the middle of the bustling Sassine Square in Ashrafieh. The young men burnt the flags in retaliation to the alleged beheading of a Lebanese soldier by ISIS. Ali al-Sayyed is among 29 soldiers and police officers who were captured by Nusra Front and ISIS during the five-day Aug. 2 clashes between the Lebanese Army and militants from Syria in a border region. A video also surfaced online showing the beheading of Al-Sayyed, but the Army has said it was still investigating the validity of the picture posted earlier this week by a man claiming to be an ISIS member. In a move highly critical of the justice minister's stance, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, a member of the FPM, announced that he would represent the young men in court once the prosecutor took action. Earlier Saturday, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi released a statement that said: “This morning, some people burnt the flag of ISIS in Sassine Square and their symbol reads: ‘No God but Allah and Mohammad the prophet of Allah,’ which is the cornerstone of Islam.” “This symbol has nothing to do with ISIS and its terrorist approach.”Rifi asked the state prosecutor Samir Hammoud to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law given that burning the flag desecrated religious symbols and could, he argued, incite sectarian strife – both punishable under Lebanese law. Hammoud has since referred the case to the Criminal Investigation Department to launch an investigation into the Ashrafieh incident. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called on Christian youth to refrain from equating ISIS to Islam, saying the religion had nothing to do with the radical group. Gebran, however, implicitly criticized Rifi’s decision. "As for those who burnt the flag, it would have been sufficient if we simply directed their attention to it,” he said in a statement. Change and Reform bloc MP Nabil Nicolas also weighed in, saying that Rifi's move encouraged "takfiri movements because the boys only burned the ISIS flag without the intention of insulting Islam."

Lebanon busts 14 printing passports for terror groups
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A 14 strong-ring, who aided the movement of terrorists by printing fake passports with forged Lebanese and Arab government seals, has been arrested by the Lebanese authorities. A security source told The Daily Star that State Security members in Zahle, east Lebanon, arrested the ring - comprised of six Syrians and eight Lebanese - for printing fake passports and forging entry permits to several Arab countries. Some of the suicide bombers who carried out attacks in Lebanon earlier this year and late last year carried fake ID cards, and the vehicles used in the bombings were registered and legal. The original owners of some of the vehicles had sold their cars to buyers who would then sell them, either deliberately or unbeknown to them, to people affiliated with terrorist groups.
During a raid on the ring’s location, security forces confiscated seals of official offices in Lebanon and Arab countries, including seals for officials and airport officers in Libya, UAE, Morocco, Jordan, Syria and Palestine, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Aside from printing U.S. dollars and Euros, the gang confessed that the passports were intended for “members of terrorist organizations that are moving between Arab countries.” Investigation revealed that the gang worked with a printing shop in the Bekaa Valley to forge other seals. The source refused to identify the shop’s exact location. The security agency raided the shop and confiscated some 150 seals for Lebanese government offices including; the vehicle registry center; General Security; the finance and labor ministries; Customs Department; engineering and farmers’ unions; public notaries; religious courts; real estate inspectors; and Lebanese banks. Some of the fake seals represented Syrian government officers, border crossings and Syrian army directorates. They also confiscated a number of fake driving licenses and Lebanese and Syrian ID cards, the source said. The gang would sell such seals for “hundreds of dollars,” taking advantage of the inability of some Syrian government directorates to issue ID cards or personal documents.

Nusra Front releases five Lebanese troops

The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Jihadists released four soldiers and one policeman they had captured during bloody clashes with the Lebanese Army in northeast Lebanon earlier in August, the state-run National News Agency reported Saturday night.
The NNA said the released soldiers and policeman were handed over to Sheikh Mustaphan al-Hujeiri in the border village of Arsal. In turn, Hujeiri is expected to hand the five troops to Lebanese security forces. The NNA identified the five men as Ahmad Ghieh, Ibrahim Shaaban, Saleh al-Baradei, Mohammad al-Qaderi and Wael Darwish. All five belonged to the Sunni sect. The Nusra Front and ISIS are holding 29 soldiers and ISF members captive in remote areas on the border between Lebanon and Syria.
The Turkish Anadolu News Agency reported that a leader of what it dubbed as the "Lebanese branch of the militant movement Nusra Front said his group released five Lebanese Sunni troops, out of a total of 18 troops, it kidnapped during clashes with the Lebanese Army . "We have handed the five troops to one of the notables of Arsal and they should be released tomorrow morning," the leader told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
The Al- Nusra Front leader said the five freed troops would spend the night at a mosque in Arsal and that they would be released on Sunday morning. He added that he and fellow Nusra members did not get ransom to release the troops.
"Our fight is not against Sunnis," the leader said. He did not, however, mention any further details about the release of other troops and denied intentions to release Christian troops.
The gunmen from ISIS and Nusra Front are demanding the release of Islamist detainees in Roumieh Prison, a request the government has implicitly rejected.
In a video posted on YouTube, ISIS threatened to slaughter the soldiers unless the Lebanese government acted to release Islamist detainees, a day after a man, claiming to be a member of the radical group, posted a picture showing the alleged beheading of a soldier.
Ali al-Sayyed, the soldier who ISIS allegedly beheaded, is from Fneydeq where residents have been blocking roads for two days in response to his reported killing.
The Lebanese Army has said it was investigating the claim. Earlier on Saturday, families of the captured soldiers took their grievances onto Lebanon's streets blocking roads and burning tires while demanding the government find a speedy solution to their crisis. “Just as I allowed the Army to take my son, they should return him to me in one piece,” the mother of soldier Ali Masri said, choking on her words. Surrounded by fathers, mothers and children of other captured soldiers and police officers, the veiled mother lashed out against the government, questioning what would officials had done if “they were one of their own.” Twin girls standing in the scorching hot sun also appealed to the militants to release their father while others rushed to help a fainting mother. “We only blocked one road today; we will block all roads tomorrow. Do not test us,” a grey-haired man yelled at cameras, as tires burnt behind him. The families, mostly the parents of the soldiers, were only responding to their sons’ call to block roads in a bid to pressure their government to respond to the captives’ demands. In the early hours of the morning, a group of the relatives used burning tires to block the highway linking Labweh to Arsal in the northern Bekaa. Minutes later, residents of Fneydeq had parked their vehicles in the middle of a two-way road near Mhammara Bridge in the northern region of Akkar. Members of the Internal Security Forces intervened and reopened the road before residents were able to pitch a tent on the Abdeh Highway in Akkar. Ali Masri's family also blocked both lanes of a main highway in Baalbek, east Lebanon, in protest of his continued detention.

Relatives of Army Captives Block Roads as Salam Reveals Newly Formed Cell to 'End Tragedy'
Naharnet /The angered families of the captives, who were taken hostage by Islamist gunmen in the northeastern border town of Arsal, blocked several roads on Saturday to protest the ongoing abduction of their relatives. But Prime Minister Tammam Salam revealed late on Saturday evening that a ministerial cell has been formed and to work "behind the scenes on following up on the abducted troops' case."The cell is headed by the Premier and formed of the ministers of interior, justice, defense and foreign affairs. "The cell is in contact with all those who can help in this case, whether in Lebanon or abroad, to find a solution for this tragedy," Salam said during a meeting with a delegation from the northern region of Akkar. "The situation is dangerous and we are in a race against time to release our sons," he said. Meanwhile on ground, Syrian warplanes also flew over the Arsal plains on Saturday afternoon and targeted gunmen positions with shells along the eastern border. Several protesters from the Akkar towns of Fneidiq, Tekrit and Mash-ha erected a tent in the middle of al-Abdeh highway, vowing no retreat until the release of the kidnapped soldiers and policemen.“We will not back down before (the state) finds a swift solution to this humanitarian matter,” demonstrators said.
Others blocked the Tripoli highway with their vehicles.The international highway linking Akkar with the northern city of Tripoli was briefly blocked as protesters appealed to the government, lawmakers and the army command to ensure the safe release of their children.
The relatives of Arsal captives in Talia blocked the Baalbek international highway as others briefly blocked the al-Labweh-Arsal road. And in the afternoon, that state-run National News Agency reported that several residents of northern Qalamun town blocked the international highway between Tripoli and Beirut to protest the abduction of soldier Ibrahim Mughaid, calling on the state “to do everything possible to release him.”The road blocking led to a huge traffic congestion in the area, and vehicles were asked to take the seaside road. The endeavors of the enraged protesters come a day after a new videotape emerged for several kidnapped soldiers and policemen, calling on their parents to block roads and pressure the cabinet to release them in exchange for Islamist inmates held in Roumieh.
Two of the troops also remarked that their execution will take place in three days if the demands of their abductors were not met. Several soldiers and policemen were taken captive by Islamist gunmen who overran the Bekaa border town of Arsal on August 2.
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.

Mashnouq Warns: Syrian Refugees at Risk if Arsal Captives Harmed
Naharnet/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq reiterated warnings on Saturday that around 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon will be at risk if any security personnel taken hostage on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal was harmed.
The Islamist abductors “should be aware that they are putting the 1.1 million Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon at risk due to their actions and threats,” Mashnouq said in comments published in An Nahar newspaper. “No one should presume that we will remain spectators if any Lebanese soldier or national was killed or slaughtered,” the minister cautioned. Mashnouq's warnings come a day after a new videotape emerged for several kidnapped soldiers and policemen, calling on their parents to block roads and pressure the cabinet to release them in exchange for Islamist inmates held in Roumieh. Two of the troops also remarked that their execution will take place in three days if the demands of their abductors were not met. Jihadists from the the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front kidnapped several soldiers and policemen following fierce clashes that erupted on August 2 in Arsal. Mashnouq also expressed concern that the Bekaa town remains at risk. “We will exert efforts to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped security personnel,” the Mustaqbal official said, pointing out that “several sides” are involved in the matter. “Arsal is a permanent clash area that needs important political decision regarding the Syrian refugees and on means to deal with the security situation.” 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.

Lebanon Plunges in Darkness as EDL, Contract Workers Rift Increases
Naharnet/Electricite du Liban apologized to nationals for failing to work on the malfunctions in electricity feed as long as the abnormal situation at the company remains as it is, in hints to the strike of the company's contract workers. “After security forces failed to ensure the safe entrance and exit of EDL employees into its headquarters... We are not responsible for the building until the obscure situation ends and things go back to normal,” EDL said in a statement. Most of Lebanon plunged into darkness in the last two days as the rift between the EDL contract workers and management increased, threatening further electricity rationing. “Work at the company will not be organized as long as (contract workers) are being selective in their behavior and as long as we need a permission by those who are occupying the HQ to enter it,” the statement added. The company said in its statement that the endeavors of the contract workers remind of Lebanon's civil war that ended a quarter of a century ago when the country had no electricity. The contract workers had opened the doors of the company's HQ in Beirut's Mar Mikhael earlier on Saturday to allow employees to enter and take the necessary equipment to fix the electricity malfunction, however, the employees didn't show up. “Either all the gates are opened and employees starting with the general manager to the lowest ranking worker could enter with dignity... Or there's no value of any other endeavor and nationals will not be served.” The statement pointed out that any initiative by the contract workers should be “complete and not selective so it would be fruitful.”  The company reiterated calls on the security forces and competent judiciary to apply the law and remove the “ongoing occupation.”However, the contract workers slammed the EDL management, saying: “Accusing us of the electricity rationing problems are void arguments to cover up for its lousy policies.” 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 rift increased when several workers erected tents at the EDL HQ and locked the gates to press the company to adopt their full-time employment. The company's board of directors has claimed that a law, adopted by parliament in April, only allows 897 workers to become full-timers.

The threat of ISIS demands a global coalition
Saturday, 30 August 2014
John Kerry /Al Arabiya
In a polarized region and a complicated world, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries, including the United States. What’s needed to confront its nihilistic vision and genocidal agenda is a global coalition using political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force. In addition to its beheadings, crucifixions and other acts of sheer evil, which have killed thousands of innocents in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, including Sunni Muslims whose faith it purports to represent, ISIS (which the United States government calls ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses a threat well beyond the region. ISIS has its origins in what was once known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has over a decade of experience in extremist violence. The group has amassed a hardened fighting force of committed jihadists with global ambitions, exploiting the conflict in Syria and sectarian tensions in Iraq. Its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States, and in May an ISIS-associated terrorist shot and killed three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. (A fourth victim died 13 days later.) ISIS’ cadre of foreign fighters are a rising threat not just in the region, but anywhere they could manage to travel undetected — including to America.
“With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries”
There is evidence that these extremists, if left unchecked, will not be satisfied at stopping with Syria and Iraq. They are larger and better funded in this new incarnation, using pirated oil, kidnapping and extortion to finance operations in Syria and Iraq. They are equipped with sophisticated heavy weapons looted from the battlefield. They have already demonstrated the ability to seize and hold more territory than any other terrorist organization, in a strategic region that borders Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and is perilously close to Israel. ISIS fighters have exhibited repulsive savagery and cruelty. Even as they butcher Shiite Muslims and Christians in their effort to touch off a broader ethnic and sectarian conflict, they pursue a calculated strategy of killing fellow Sunni Muslims to gain and hold territory. The beheading of an American journalist, James Foley, has shocked the conscience of the world. With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries. The world can confront this scourge, and ultimately defeat it. ISIS is odious, but not omnipotent. We have proof already in northern Iraq, where United States airstrikes have shifted the momentum of the fight, providing space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to go on the offensive. With our support, Iraq’s leaders have come together to form a new, inclusive government that is essential to isolating ISIS and securing the support of all of Iraq’s communities.
“Extremists are defeated only when responsible nations and their peoples unite to oppose them.” Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world. We need to support Iraqi forces and the moderate Syrian opposition, who are facing ISIS on the front lines. We need to disrupt and degrade ISIS’ capabilities and counter its extremist message in the media. And we need to strengthen our own defenses and cooperation in protecting our people. Next week, on the sidelines of the NATO summit meeting in Wales, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I will meet with our counterparts from our European allies. The goal is to enlist the broadest possible assistance. Following the meeting, Mr. Hagel and I plan to travel to the Middle East to develop more support for the coalition among the countries that are most directly threatened.
The United States will hold the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in September, and we will use that opportunity to continue to build a broad coalition and highlight the danger posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including those who have joined ISIS. During the General Assembly session, President Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat. In this battle, there is a role for almost every country. Some will provide military assistance, direct and indirect. Some will provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance for the millions who have been displaced and victimized across the region. Others will help restore not just shattered economies but broken trust among neighbors. This effort is underway in Iraq, where other countries have joined us in providing humanitarian aid, military assistance and support for an inclusive government. Already our efforts have brought dozens of nations to this cause. Certainly there are different interests at play. But no decent country can support the horrors perpetrated by ISIS, and no civilized country should shirk its responsibility to help stamp out this disease. ISIS’ abhorrent tactics are uniting and rallying neighbors with traditionally conflicting interests to support Iraq’s new government. And over time, this coalition can begin to address the underlying factors that fuel ISIS and other terrorist organizations with like-minded agendas.
Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory. Extremists are defeated only when responsible nations and their peoples unite to oppose them.
This article was first published in the New York Times on Aug. 30, 2014.
**John Kerry is the 68th and current United States Secretary of State. He has served in the United States Senate, and was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Hale promises Army more arms as U.S. weapons arrive
Elise Knutsen| The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Two shipments of rocket launchers and assault rifles delivered by the United States to the Lebanese Army this week will be followed by unspecified heavy weaponry, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale pledged at a ceremony Friday. The 1,500 M16s, more than 450 anti-tank guided missiles and 60 mortars delivered by the U.S. military Thursday and Friday are worth nearly $9 million, an embassy source told The Daily Star.
In total, around $11 million in military aid, including unspecified heavy weapons, will be delivered to the Army by “early September,” with the next shipment scheduled to arrive in a matter of days. 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, the embassy source added. The weapons 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.”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 urgently needed offensive and defensive equipment to face battle-hardened fighters from Syria. “On Aug. 2, extremists attacked in Arsal. On Aug. 3, I met with [Army Commander] Gen. [Jean] Kahwagi and asked what America could do to help,” Hale said from behind a podium flanked by two 81mm mortars. “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 Lebanon’s security.”
Lebanese Brig. Gen. Manuel Kirejian said that the battles in Arsal had been “the most dangerous encounter” with terrorists in Lebanon in recent times, 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,” he added. After the ceremony, Hale and Kirejian took stock of the weapons, a selection of which were on proud display. Under the punishing sun, drops of condensation gathered on the new rocket launchers, still wrapped in protective plastic. With a deafening roar, a U.S. Air Force jet touched down with the second arms shipment. “This aircraft is full, chock-full!” said a U.S. defense official as the jaw of the plane’s cargo hold lowered slowly onto the tarmac.

Three Stories of Jihadist Incitement
By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Saturday, 31 Aug, 2014
Security forces in the town of Tameer, north of Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, said they arrested eight citizens following appeals by locals to intervene and rid the town of them. The story is that more than 17 men from the town have disappeared and are believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria with the terrorist organizations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front. This is significant considering the town’s population is no more than 10,000. These men reportedly ended up fighting alongside ISIS after they were incited to travel outside Saudi Arabia to fight alongside terrorist groups under the banner of jihad. The townspeople sent letters to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz on the matter and informed security forces about eight people they believe lured their sons into leaving the country to join the terrorist organizations. In a similar town in Jordan, citizens beat up a preacher at a mosque following Friday prayers because he called on them and their sons to fight alongside ISIS. The police had to intervene to save him but he was later arrested on charges of incitement. In the Welsh city of Cardiff, a Muslim family was shocked when one of their sons appeared in an ISIS video talking about the virtues of jihad and urging viewers to join the organization in Syria and Iraq. Talking to BBC television, the young man’s father said he wanted to cry when he saw the video. He also said that his son, Nasser, who was a medical student, disappeared in November. He added that his younger son Aseel, who is 17 years old, also disappeared in February.
From the Saudi town of Tameer to the Welsh city of Cardiff, there is real fear and worry about those who abduct youths by brainwashing them and instilling extremist religious ideas into them. Most of this incitement is practiced publicly at mosques and schools. But we can now say that the results of raising awareness of such incitement has begun to make its mark. News of the arrest of the inciters in Tameer spread hours before the Interior Ministry issued an official statement on the matter.
This is one of the few times we learned that the police were pursuing recruiters who had remained safe under the excuse that they are preachers and are preaching on the subject of jihad. It seems that citizens have become more aware than the government, and even braver, with regards to pursuing extremists. In Jordan, citizens did not wait for the police to arrive but took matters into their own hands and disciplined the recruiter, preventing him from resuming his sermon.
Jordan is in a high state of alert as ISIS is close, having gained strongholds in Iraq. There are also fears that ISIS may infiltrate the ranks of frustrated Syrian refugees who have been residing in Jordan in huge numbers since the war erupted in Syria three years ago. Due to its massive victories and its well-publicized battles, ISIS has become a power that attracts youths. The incident in which Jordanian citizens beat up the extremist preacher reflects their fear for their children, particularly after learning that several preachers were behind the disappearance of many young men.
It is not only preachers at mosques or recruiters at schools who cause fear. Online media outlets play the biggest role, and we can ascertain this from the story of the British Muslim family who did not know the fate of their son until he appeared in that video inciting others. The grieving father said his sons didn’t socialize with other people, but he didn’t know that solitude can be worse than bad company as terrorist groups’ means of communication are more accessible on the Internet than they are in the city of Cardiff itself.

The “trend” of criticizing political Islam
By: Mshari Al-Zaydi /Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 31 Aug, 2014
Some say, whether out of ignorance of negligence, that the current criticism of Islamists and political Islam is nothing more than a trend that will soon fade out of fashion. However those who put forward this point of view do not understand that this “trend” has destroyed Arab and Islamic states, resulting in bloodshed, the forced displacement of minorities and cutting off heads. They are incapable of understanding the ideology of these groups or the statements of their leaders, not to mention their approach and priorities. They are ultimately incapable of digesting and understanding all of this and so seek to ignore it or play it down. This is because we have become accustomed to nationalist or leftist analysis over the decades, but what we are facing today is something new. So, just who are these people who criticize the criticism of the Islamists, viewing this as part of attempts to confuse the scene while ignoring the Islamists true objectives and projects? There are also those who claim that anyone who criticize this ideology is an agent of the West or America, as if the Muslim Brotherhood and prominent Islamists such as Mohamed Badie, Khairat El-Shater, Rachid Ghannouchi and Youssef Al-Qaradawi have no connections—past or present—with western states and governments. These people are so incensed by the criticism of the Islamists that they will not stop talking about this until they have convinced everybody, viewing political Islam as the unbreakable ideology that will, no doubt, challenge the authority of the states that they have come to hate. These people lack popular backing for their views and so they are seeking to use Islamists and political Islam to weaken the state and therefore benefit from the ensuing political vacuum. Of course, this is nothing but a pipe dream, or shall we say a nightmare? This is precisely what happened during the Khomeinist revolution in Iran, and is currently taking place in Libya, and almost happened in Egypt. The evidence of this is clear to see, however the old-style nationalists and leftists are blind to the threat represented by these Islamists. Simply put, it is vital that we understand the ideology and objectives of Islamists and political Islam in order to take the right decisions; this is not a mere trend. Despite all the talk about political Islam in the Arab world and beyond, there is little deep analyses of this phenomenon. In March 2012, Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf said that we can expect to witness decades of conflict over “identity.” While in 2008, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “Religious faith will be of the same significance to the twenty-first century as political ideology was to the twentieth century.”We need a deeper and more accurate understanding of everything to do with political Islam, otherwise we will fall into the same trap as those who lack this desire for knowledge—whether out of ignorance or negligence. This, ultimately, is a trap that there is no escape from.

Biden’s Gift to ISIS
By: Wafiq Al-Samarrai /Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 31 Aug, 2014
Once again, US Vice President Joe Biden returned to talk about the possibility of dividing Iraq into three federal states—Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish. As a man advances in age and his career, one would expect him to become wiser and more knowledgeable, not the opposite. Mr. Biden, however, remains stuck in the same circle of errors and fantasies as he was before taking up the post of vice president. Despite the fact that Iraq represents a major concern for the US administration, the conduct and statement of senior officials continues to indicate that Washington just doesn’t understand the situation in the country. This, however, is not even the main problem. The biggest problem lies in the fact that many Iraqi politicians have become mired in a culture of interdependence; this is exactly the oppose of what is required today and will only lead to backwardness. I previously wrote about the dangers of partition and federalism, and I can only hope that America’s politicians have learnt the lessons from the past and will stop interfering in the future of Iraq. Otherwise, they could ignite a fire that could consume the entire region.  Americans must also avoid any direct military intervention of ground forces in Iraq. They must take care not to find themselves embroiled in another large-scale conflict that they are, financially and politically, unprepared for. This is something that could also cause untold damage. The Iraqi people is capable—if they are spared American interference—to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and those who are conspiring with them. They do not need any outside support or assistance to achieve this objective, especially after they politically put their house in order and militarily equip their troops for the coming battle.
When I talk about federalism, let me clarify that the Kurds remain outside the equation, particularly as they have planned their path and are enjoying something that goes far beyond this concept. Iraq’s Kurds enjoy significant financial resources and a share of major cabinet posts, while at the same time they are not sharing information and intelligence with the central government about their own security and affairs.
If Iraq’s Kurds have the right to reject plans to divide the Kurdistan Region into sub-regions, then Iraqis have the right to protest against and reject this culture of regionalisation and the partition of Iraq. This is a view that contradicts the moderate stances championed by former Iraqi President—and leading Kurdish figure—Jalal Talabani. However it is not just the Kurds who are promoting this culture. Many unassuming Sunni youth view regionalism and federalism as an escape from a rule that has been described by some media outlets as Shi’ite hegemony. At the same time, many Sunni politicians have become rich over the past years, moving around Baghdad freely and without hassle.
However, these gullible Sunni youths do not realize the massive risks that accompany regionalisation. For example, it would be impossible for Baghdad or Diyala’s Sunnis to be included in any putative Sunni federal region.
The story of Samarra is even more complicated; this city had been a part of Baghdad governorate until 1975 when Salah Al-Din governorate was established. There is also a prominent Shi’ite community in the towns of Balad and Dujail. A number of prominent Shi’ite imams are buried in the town itself, while the Samarra Dam is strategically important for Baghdad’s security. In this case, any division here would be costly and haphazard, harming one community or the other. These partition plans, and the sectarian slogans that accompany them, mean that Iraq’s Shi’ites are no longer as keen as they were to liberate Mosul from the grip of ISIS. Some Shi’ites have started to ask: Why should Shi’ites sacrifice their sons and resources to liberate Mosul from the clutches of ISIS when its people do not want to live alongside Iraq’s Shi’ites? However questions such as this will only result in further violence and destruction. Without a central government in Baghdad, the areas occupied by ISIS cannot be liberated. Even if the Iraqi armed forces liberate these cities and then withdrew, they will only fall into ISIS hands again.  The division of Iraq will only serve ISIS’s interests and even Iraq’s Kurdistan region will be affected by this. The stances of Iraq’s neighboring states and the regional balance of power regarding Kurdistan is well-known, therefore it is in the interest of the Kurdish people to support and promote democracy.  As for Mr. Biden, let us hope he understands that his proposal would ultimately benefit ISIS. In fact, this would be the best gift that Biden could give the terrorist group.

Question: "Since God does not forgive until a person confesses/repents, does that mean we can withhold forgiveness from those who sin against us until they confess/repent?"

Answer: The Bible speaks of two kinds of forgiveness—human forgiveness, that of people extending forgiveness toward others, and divine forgiveness, God’s forgiving human beings. Is there a difference? The forgiveness God extends to an unbeliever is conditional upon his repentance—that is, if a sinner never repents of his sin, he will remain unsaved (see Acts 3:19). Once a sinner repents and turns to Christ, all his sin is forgiven and all condemnation is removed (Romans 8:1). The forgiveness we are to extend to others is not conditioned upon being asked for nor upon our seeing fruits of repentance. The Bible teaches us that God withholds forgiveness toward unsaved people who are unrepentant (2 Kings 24:4 and Lamentations 3:42). God does this because of His very nature: He is sinless. He is perfect. He is holy. He simply will not tolerate sin. Paul warns the willfully rebellious in Romans 2:5, “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”
As Christians, we are certainly obligated to forgive others who sin against us and then repent (Matthew 6:14–15; 18:23–35; Mark 11:25; Luke 17:3–4; Ephesians 4:31–32; Colossians 3:13). This holds true even if someone sins against us repeatedly (Matthew 18:21–22).
But what about when someone sins against us and is not repentant? The fact that God makes repentance a condition for saving a person does not give us license to withhold forgiveness. God can judge a person’s intentions because He knows what’s in a person’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Hebrews 4:12–13), and we don’t. We are not God. We are not the Judge. For us to play God by refusing to offer forgiveness is an act of judgment on our part, something Jesus warns us against (Matthew 7:2).
When Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive someone, Jesus answered that we must forgive as many times as necessary. Then He illustrated forgiveness with a parable about a man who, although forgiven by his master of an overwhelming debt, refused to forgive another a paltry sum. When this man’s master heard about his ingratitude and injustice, he was outraged and had him handed over to the tormentors. “This is how My heavenly Father will treat each one of you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). Surely, by receiving such a massive pardon from God, we should not be so mean-spirited as to withhold forgiveness from others. Rather, we should emulate the example of our Savior. Forgiveness is not a fruit that needs time to grow in our lives. It is an act of the will. Jesus commands that if someone sins against us seven times in one day and repents as many times, that person should be forgiven (Luke 17:4). Forgiving someone for the same offense several times in one year would be a major test of sanctification, so seven times in one day drives Jesus’ point home. The disciples were so staggered by this that they immediately requested an increase in their faith (Luke 17:5). Jesus then told them what a tiny amount of faith can achieve by explaining that a servant does not receive praise for carrying out orders—for simply doing his duty. In other words, we do not need great faith to forgive; we only need to choose to carry out the Master’s instruction.
Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Stephen asked that those who were stoning him be forgiven (Acts 7:60). In both cases, forgiveness was unconditional. Those around the cross were not asking for forgiveness, and neither were those stoning Stephen. And, obviously, someone who sins against us seven times in one day is not demonstrating fruits of repentance. By emulating Jesus and Stephen, we can extend God’s forgiveness, too. To wait until we are asked for forgiveness may mean we never get an opportunity to forgive. In all this, we must realize that God never asks us to do the impossible. Were it beyond our ability to forgive from the heart, Jesus would never have directed us to do it.
An unforgiving spirit leads to bitterness, anger, and resentment. A heart with such an attitude cannot have true fellowship with God. Not holding grudges allows a state of mind that is ready and willing to forgive. Reconciliation is the goal, and if there cannot be reconciliation, a willingness to forgive must be maintained. There can be no excuse for withholding forgiveness from others (Matthew 5:22–24).
Recommended Resources: When You've Been Wronged: Moving From Bitterness to Forgiveness by Erwin Lutzer and Logos Bible Software.