December 05/14

Bible Quotation For Today/The Armor Of God
Ephesians 06/10-23/Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.  I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love."

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Advent increases our hope, a hope which does not disappoint. The Lord never lets us down.
Pape François ‏
Le temps de l’Avent nous apporte l’espérance, une espérance qui ne déçoit pas. Le Seigneur ne déçoit jamais.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 04-05/14
Aoun vs. Geagea: time to bridge the gap/Wassim Mroueh/The Daily Star/December 04/14
Politically, the Army gains on Hezbollah/Michael Young/The Daily Star/December 04/14
Arrest of an ISIS ex-wife: Between truth and distortions/Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/December 04/14
Hezbollah's Syria Problem/Matthew Levitt/Politico/ December 04/14

Turkey no Friend of the West/Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/December 04/14
Lebanon is an autumn leaf in a gale/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/December 04/14
Pluralism in Turkey: A Fairy Tale/Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/December 04/14

Lebanese Related News published on December 04-05/14
Lebanese Army Arrests Defected Syrian Officer in Riyaq, Arms Smuggler in al-Qaa
Future-Hezbollah dialogue on front burner, expected this month
Lebanese Army ready to confront militants
Machnouk says girl in custody is Baghdadi’s daughter
Diplomats expected to push for presidency vote
Panel agrees on how to address vote law
Daryan Calls for Muslim, Christian Unity against 'Dark Forces'
Report: Jumblat at The Hague over Hariri Murder Trial Testimony
Israeli NGO Files Action against U.S. Presbyterian Church over Alleged Hizbullah Ties
No DNA from Abu Adass found at Hariri blast site
Lebanon to stay in anti-ISIS coalition, Bassil hints
Senior French Diplomat to Arrive in Lebanon Next Week
Army confirms 11 arrested over deadly border attack
Aoun Says 'Not Concerned' with Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue
Army fires at drones over east Lebanon
Lebanese Army, French Officials to Agree on Arms Deal Protocols this Month
Asiri Says Stability, Presidential Elections Priority at Any Dialogue
U.N. Says Dialogue among Lebanese Parties Necessary for Stability
Zasypkin Says Russia Seeking to End Political Standstill in Lebanon
Judiciary Indicts Ethiopian Maid in Celine Rakan's Murder
Lebanese Man Accused of Trafficking Infant Formula in Texas

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 04-05/14
Lapid to Netanyahu: You are out of touch, you live in an aquarium
U.S. officials report first Iranian airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq
Human rights: From commitment to action
Congress OKs bill to deepen U.S.-Israel tie
U.N. asks people to give $1 each for Syrian refugees
Saudi FM: fighting ISIS in Syria requires boots on the ground
Kerry: any Iran action against ISIS ‘positive’
For Iraq’s Kurds, independence can wait
Saudi suspends aid to Yemen after Houthi takeover
Assad says US-led strikes on Syria ineffective
Egypt to Try 31 People over 2013 Murders of Shiites
In Iraq, U.S. and Iranian Forces Move in Separate Areas

In face of beheading, Iraqi children proclaim love for Jesus

Jihad Watch Site Posts For Thursday
Jihad group quotes Qur’an to justify massacre of Christians

Raymond Ibrahim: The Koran and Eternal War
UK: Two Muslims charged for helping 17-year-old boy join Islamic State
Egypt: Salafi plan to expel Christian Copts
Kenya teachers to stay home after jihadists murder 22 teachers
Pakistan running special trains for Mumbai jihad mass murder mastermind
Robert Spencer in PJ Media: 5 New Assaults on Freedom of Speech Around the World
Veiled Muslima stabs American teacher to death in Abu Dhabi mall
State Dept hasn’t canceled passports of any US-based Islamic State jihadis
Somalia: Islamic jihadists target UN convoy, murder four

Israeli NGO Files Action against U.S. Presbyterian Church over Alleged Hizbullah Ties
Naharnet /A civil rights organization based in Israel has filed a legal complaint against the U.S. Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), alleging violations of the U.S. tax code for unlawful political lobbying and contact with Hizbullah, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday. Shurat Hadin, the Tel Aviv-based organization, publicized the submission of its 38-page complaint with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday, the daily said. “It is high time the IRS took a long look at the Presbyterian Church and investigated its meeting with the designated- terrorist organization Hizbullah, its lobbying activities, and its anti-Israel divestment policies,” said Shurat Hadin spokesman attorney Robert Tolchin. “The PCUSA is obsessed with attacking the Jewish state and has moved far from the activities which it presented to the IRS to secure its tax-free status in the United States.”  According to The Jerusalem Post, Shurat Hadin said it provided the IRS with “documentary and video evidence” showing PCUSA delegates meeting with Hizbullah and publishing anti-Semitic materials. The organization also accused the delegates of “enacting a racist policy to divest from American companies doing business with Israel, lobbying the U.S. Congress, and distributing political advocacy materials in violation of its tax-exempt status as a religious organization.”

Report: Jumblat at The Hague over Hariri Murder Trial Testimony
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat is at The Hague where the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is based for possible consultations on his testimony in the trial of suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's Feb. 2005 assassination, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday. The daily said Jumblat traveled to the Netherlands on Tuesday. The Prosecution said last month that it was mulling to ask Jumblat to testify at the court. The PSP chief later replied through a tweet, saying he would go to the STL if he was asked to. The in absentia trial of Hizbullah members accused of murdering Hariri in a suicide truck bombing in Beirut kicked off in January. In 2011, the court issued arrest warrants against Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, and Assad Sabra, all members of Hizbullah. The four suspects were indicted in 2011 with plotting the attack against Hariri, but have not been arrested. A fifth, Hassan Habib Merhi, was charged late last year in the case and is also still at large.

Zasypkin Says Russia Seeking to End Political Standstill in Lebanon
Naharnet /Russian deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov is seeking to end the political deadlock in Lebanon and the rift between the Lebanese arch-foes during his visit to Beirut, Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said on Thursday. The diplomat said in an interview with An Nahar newspaper hours before Bogdanov's arrival in Beirut that the visit aims at “exchanging points of view with senior Lebanese officials, including Hizbullah figures.” He noted that talks will focus on the international, regional and local developments, in particular the issue of the rising terrorism. “Russia supports the Lebanese state and the army, in addition to stability and security in the country. We deem that the national dialogue is the only solution to the local rift,” Zasypkin told the newspaper.
Bogdanov, according to the diplomat, will encourage Lebanese officials to end the presidential vacuum by agreeing on a consensual candidate. The political scene in Lebanon has reached a standstill after the parliamentary blocs failed to agree on a compromise head of state. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. Concerning Hizbullah's involvement in the war raging in neighboring country Syria, Zasypkin said that the party isn't “the only side that dispatched fighters to Damascus. There are other sides that are supporting rebels with fighters and weapons also.”Hizbullah has deployed thousands of fighters into Syria to back President Bashar Assad's army as he battles insurgents who have been trying to overthrow him for the past four years.
Asked about a possible arms deal between the Lebanese state and Russia, Zasypkin said that the two sides are still negotiating the delivery of weapons to the Lebanese army. “For some period of time the matter was frozen... But both sides has been seeking to revive the initiative under a Saudi grant,” he revealed. He pointed out that several Lebanese delegations headed to Moscow recently to continue discussions over the matter. Any deal would most likely be financed by a $1 billion Saudi donation that was announced by al-Mustaqbal movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri in August. Zasypkin considered that Lebanon has the right to enter a 60-member coalition trying to crush the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and in Syria and seek the help of different sides regarding its battle with terrorism.
However, he noted that the Lebanese state should “benefit from the coalition and highlight its conditions regarding its dissociation policy.”
“We welcome any deal that safeguards stability and security in Lebanon and prevents sedition, but we have to admit that the Syrian crisis highly affected the situation in Lebanon.” Lebanon has been battling jihadists from al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group after jihadists briefly overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.  The IS declared a "caliphate" in areas under its control in June in Syria and Iraq, imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law and committing widespread atrocities. Concern over the rise of IS prompted Washington to form a coalition of Western and Arab nations that has carried out a barrage of air strikes on its positions in Iraq and Syria.

Qahwaji Expects War of 'Attrition' with Terrorists, Vows to Defeat them
Naharnet/Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji expected a war of “attrition” with Syria-based terrorists, warning the military would launch more preventive strikes against them. “Our battle with terrorism and terrorists is open-ended and we expect it to be a war of attrition,” Qahwaji said in remarks published in local dailies on Thursday. He promised to make more preventive strikes against the militants who are entrenched on the porous border between Lebanon and Syria. On Wednesday, a Lebanese military expert was killed and two others were wounded when a bomb they were about to dismantle on the outskirts of the town of Arsal exploded, the army said. The explosion came a day after an ambush by militants near Ras Baalbek area killed six soldiers and wounded one.
The troops found the bomb on Wednesday as an army patrol was combing the area in the aftermath of Tuesday's ambush. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the two attacks. But Lebanese troops have been battling the Syria-based Islamic militants, including the extremist Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, in areas near the border. “If the terrorists are responding to the preventive strikes carried out by the army, then … there will be more similar strikes,” Qahwaji said. He said the army is “strong” and “in high spirits.” Asked whether the latest attacks on the military were the result of the arrest of Saja al-Dulaimi, who Lebanese authorities say is the divorcee of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Qahwaji denied the two issues were linked.
He said: “The woman was apprehended 15 days ago after a thorough monitoring that started two months ago.”“Our intention was to know her identity,” he added. The army chief stressed that the terrorist organizations do not act like armies. “We expect anything from this enemy.” “We hit them hard and we will continue to hit them until we defeat them no matter how much time it takes,” he said.

UAE Arrests Suspect in U.S. Teacher Death, Foiled Bombing
Naharnet /An Emirati woman has been arrested over the fatal stabbing of an American teacher and a foiled plot to bomb the home of another U.S. citizen, UAE authorities said Thursday. Interior Minister Saif Bin Zayed said the woman, believed to be the veiled suspect who killed the American woman Monday in a shopping center toilet, had also attempted to plant a makeshift bomb in front of the home of an American doctor in Abu Dhabi. "We are witnessing an unprecedented heinous crime in the UAE," the minister said. Agence France Presse

Lebanese Army Arrests Defected Syrian Officer in Riyaq, Arms Smuggler in al-Qaa
Naharnet/Four Syrian suspects were arrested Thursday by the army in separate operations in the Bekaa region.
“An army intelligence patrol raided an apartment inhabited by Syrians in the New Riyaq area and arrested three people, including defected officer A. M.,” state-run National News Agency reported. It identified the other two suspects as Z. M. and M. M.
In a separate operation, army intelligence agents arrested Syrian fugitive Amer Saleh Amer in the Bekaa border area of Masharii al-Qaa near Syria's border, NNA said. “He is wanted on arrest warrants related to smuggling arms across the border and fighting against the Lebanese army,” the agency added. Dozens of Syrian suspects have been arrested in Lebanon since the eruption of the Syrian conflict in 2011, but the Lebanese army intensified its crackdown earlier this year following deadly clashes with extremist groups in the Bekaa border town of Arsal and the northern city of Tripoli. Top Free Syrian Army official Abdullah al-Rifai, who is a defected colonel, was arrested several weeks ago by the army in Arsal's outskirts. days ago, the army arrested at one of its checkpoints an Iraqi woman identified as Saja al-Dulaimi, whom Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq identified as a divorcee of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chief of the Islamic State group that has seized vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. The army also arrested this week the Syrian wife of top al-Nusra Front official Anas Sharkas, according to NNA. The IS and al-Nusra had in August abducted several Lebanese troops and policemen during deadly clashes with the army in and around the town of Arsal. Around 27 servicemen remain in the custody of the two groups while three have been executed. The detained women and the Syrians arrested in Lebanon in recent days could potentially serve as bargaining chips with the kidnappers.  Lebanese authorities have been under intense pressure from the families of the captured men to negotiate their release.

Qatar's Envoy Back in Beirut as Negotiations with Hostage-Takers Enter New Stage
Naharnet/Qatar's mediator, Ahmed al-Khatib, returned to Beirut on Thursday and went into immediate talks with Lebanese officials on the negotiations aimed at securing the release of servicemen taken hostage by jihadists.
Reports said the negotiations have entered a new stage and that al-Khatib, a Syrian, is expected to head to the northeastern border town of Arsal on Friday to follow up the case. The Lebanese soldiers and policemen were taken captive in August when militants from the extremist Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front infiltrated Arsal from Syria and engaged in bloody clashes with troops. Lebanon now has the upper hand in the negotiations with the jihadists after the Lebanese army arrested Saja al-Dulaimi, a divorcee of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Even if she's no longer al-Baghdadi's wife, al-Dulaimi could potentially serve as a bargaining chip with the Syria-based militants. The Lebanese authorities have also detained, separately, the wife of senior Nusra Front leader Anas Sharkas, who is also known as Abu Ali al-Shishani. The government has been under intense pressure from the families of the captured men to negotiate their release.  Al-Khatib's return to Beirut came two days after Prime Minister Tammam Salam urged the Qatari emir to revive his country's mediation in the negotiations on the hostages. Salam telephoned Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani to urge him to help “end the suffering of the families” of the soldiers and policemen. The Emir expressed his “great interest in assisting Lebanon and the Lebanese in this ordeal” and informed Salam that he will give “immediate orders” to the officials tasked with dealing with the case to “make the necessary contacts.”

Lebanese Army Opens Anti-Aircraft Fire at Unidentified Drone
Naharnet /The Lebanese army opened anti-aircraft fire on Thursday at an unmanned plane in central Bekaa, the state-run National News Agency reported. According to NNA, the Army's Second Artillery Brigade opened anti-aircraft fire at a drone that was flying over the Riyaq military airport.  It is unclear if the drone was hit.   “Around 10:30 am an Israeli reconnaissance plane overflew Riyaq region and army units in the area responded by opening anti-aircraft fire,” the army said in a communique later in the day.
However, Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said that the army “opened anti-aircraft fire at three Israeli MK drones that staged a circular flight over Riyaq airport.”According to the radio station, the three warplanes were filming the area to help militiamen reach into Riyaq airport from Syria's Zabadani.”In a separate statement, the army said that “Israeli warplanes violated Lebanon's airspace on Wednesday afternoon over the town of Alma al-Shaab, staging a circular flight over all Lebanese regions, before leaving the airspace at 10:45 pm over the town of Kfar Kila,” added the statement. Israel's violations of Lebanese airspace, some of which at low altitudes, have intensified in recent days. Israel routinely sends F-16 fighter planes over Lebanon, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war. The Israeli planes have often broken the sound barrier over Beirut and other places as a show of strength, most recently after the drone incident. NNA also reported on Thursday that Israeli warplanes overflew the town of Marjayoun at 9:00 am.
On December 30 last year the Lebanese army opened anti-aircraft fire for the first time against Syrian airplanes violating its airspace since the outbreak of the Syria's conflict in 2011.

Future-Hezbollah dialogue on front burner, expected this month
Dec. 04, 2014
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Preparations have been stepped up to launch a long-awaited dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah deemed essential for easing Sunni-Shiite tensions and facilitating the election of a consensus president.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Wednesday joined Speaker Nabih Berri and lawmakers from the two rival parties in voicing optimism about the outcome of the talks between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, whose strained ties have heightened political and sectarian tensions and sometimes put the country on edge. Berri was quoted by MPs who saw him during his weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain al-Tineh as saying that the dialogue he has been seeking between Hezbollah and the Future Movement was on the right path.
“Matters are headed toward preparatory steps to start it [dialogue],” Berri said.
Machnouk, a key figure in the Future Movement, said he was optimistic about the outcome of the dialogue, adding that this dialogue should be given “a real chance.” “The dialogue with Hezbollah will produce results. This dialogue can protect a minimum of national unity,” Machnouk said in an interview with MTV station Wednesday night. He said national unity was needed to face challenges of the next stage. Machnouk said the first topics on the dialogue agenda are the prevention of sectarian strife in Lebanon and the possibility of reaching an understanding on “a consensus president.” He said he was hopeful about the election of a new president in the first six months of next year. Hezbollah MP Nawar Saheli told MTV after meeting Berri: “I am optimistic [about the dialogue]. We have always extended our hand for dialogue and we are not setting any preconditions.” He said he expected talks between the two parties to begin soon. MP Qassem Hashem from Berri’s parliamentary bloc also voiced optimism about the results of the planned Future-Hezbollah dialogue which he expected to begin in the first half of this month. “The dialogue will have a positive impact, reduce tensions and open the door to a serious national debate over all divisive issues,” Hashem told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.
Future MP Ammar Houri said the dialogue with Hezbollah has entered “the phase of technical preparations in order to ensure its success.”
“The results of the dialogue depended on the conviction of everyone of the need to ensure its success by approaching it with objective and logical expectations,” he told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. Houri said the proposed dialogue stood a good chance of success if the two parties agreed that the situation in Lebanon was serious due to the turmoil in the region and that the vacancy in the presidency seat was a grave development. In a development signaling a speeding up of the dialogue process, Nader Hariri, chief of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s staff, met Tuesday with Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, a political aide to Berri, to discuss agenda proposals for the Future-Hezbollah talks. Nader Hariri and Future MP Jamal Jarrah will represent their party in the dialogue, while Hezbollah will be represented by Hussein Khalil, a political aide to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, and a party lawmaker. Meanwhile, the Council of Maronite Bishops slammed lawmakers for failing to elect a president over the past six months while they showed up in Parliament on Nov. 5 to extend their mandate for two years and seven months. “The bishops are surprised that Parliament had been able to renew its mandate in violation of the Constitution and the democratic system, and at the same time failed to elect a president contrary to what is stipulated by the Constitution,” said a statement issued at the end of the bishops’ monthly meeting, chaired by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Bkirki. “Is the danger of the vacancy in the presidency seat less serious than that of a Parliament vacuum?” the bishops asked. They reiterated their call on lawmakers to respect the Constitution and elect a president rather than wait for “regional and international signals or a Christian consensus.”

Machnouk says girl in custody is Baghdadi’s daughter
The Daily Star/Dec. 04, 2014
BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Wednesday that DNA samples of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been matched with one of the three children who are currently being held by Lebanese authorities, suspected of being related to the jihadi chief. Machnouk said DNA samples, which were sent over by Iraqi authorities earlier this week, matched samples taken from three children who were detained alongside Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, Baghdadi’s ex-wife. Machnouk revealed that Dulaimi had married Baghdadi for three months six years ago and they had a daughter together. The ISIS leader’s DNA matched with that of Dulaimi’s daughter, Machnouk said. The DNA tests taken from Dulaimi also proved that she was the mother of the three children – one girl and two boys, a source in the investigation told The Daily Star. Machnouk said the two boys and the girl were not incarcerated but were rather staying at a specialized care center. Dulaimi was detained as she has links with jihadi groups.
Dulaimi is currently married to a Palestinian, according to Machnouk. However, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said that the woman detained by Lebanese authorities was not the wife of ISIS leader Baghdadi, but the sister of a man convicted of bombings in southern Iraq.“The one detained by Lebanese authorities was Saja Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi, sister of Omar Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi, who has been detained by authorities and sentenced to death for his participation in ... explosions,” ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said. “The wives of the terrorist Baghdadi are Asmaa Fawzi Mohammad al-Dulaimi and Esraa Rajab Mahel al-Qaisi, and there is no wife in the name of Saja al-Dulaimi,” he said. According to The Daily Star’s source, the Iraqi statement was based on the fact that official records did not list Dulaimi as one of Baghdadi’s wives Dulami was detained in north Lebanon after she was found to have a fake passport, officials said. Investigators are questioning her at the Lebanese Defense Ministry.

Lebanese Army ready to confront militants
Wassim MrouehNidal al-Solh| The Daily Star
BAALBEK, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army is in “good situation” and ready to confront terrorist groups on the frontier with Syria, a senior military source told The Daily Star Wednesday, one day after six soldiers were slain in an ambush by Islamist militants on the northeastern border.
The source’s remarks also came hours after a seventh soldier was killed and two others wounded while trying to dismantle a bomb on the outskirts of Arsal.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that the Army had its own plan to confront the militants holed up in the northeastern mountainous region, describing the military’s situation as “good.”
“We are ready, but you know it is difficult to know of an ambush ahead of time,” the source said.
The six soldiers were killed when their vehicle was ambushed on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek, northeast Lebanon. The affiliations of the militants were not immediately known. But the Army has routinely clashed with jihadi militants from both the Nusra Front and ISIS on the eastern and northeastern border.
Security sources told The Daily Star that the Army raided the site of Tuesday’s attack and arrested more than 10 militants who were said to be of Lebanese and Syrian nationalities. But the source denied that the military had made any arrests.
Earlier Wednesday, the Army, backed by airborne forces, fired artillery shells at militant hideouts along the Syrian border near the area.
Also Wednesday, the Army said that Adjutant Mahmoud Noureddine was killed and two other soldiers wounded as they approached a bomb to dismantle it on the outskirts of Arsal. A military statement said that the wounds of the two soldiers were not serious.
Meanwhile, grief and pain gripped residents in the north and the Bekaa Valley, where the six slain soldiers were laid to rest in their respective villages.
Mourners opened fire in the air in an expression of sorrow as they received the body of Mohammad Sleiman in his Tripoli neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen.
“Welcome martyr! I am celebrating his wedding day today,” Sleiman’s bereaved mother said, as she kissed his military uniform and boots.
Thousands also took part in the funeral of Ali Mohammad, who was buried in the Akkar village of Hadsheet. Rabih Hoda was laid to rest in his village of Ayyat in the same qada.
Similar feelings were evident in the Bekaa Valley, where residents of the Zahle village of Ali al-Nahri buried soldier Mashhad Sharafeddine.
The funeral of soldier Ali Yazbek was held in the village of Hosh al-Rafqa, while Mohammad Sleem was laid to rest in Boudai.
Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned Tuesday’s attack and expressed their full solidarity with the Army.
MPs attending the weekly meeting of Speaker Nabih Berri with lawmakers quoted him as strongly denouncing the ambush, highlighting the need to equip the Army with everything it needed. Berri called on the Lebanese to embrace the Army in its battle against terrorism, stressing that the military was protecting the country and preserving its stability. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri telephoned Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi to extend his condolences and express his firm support for the Lebanese Army in its bid to crush the terrorists.
Hezbollah MP Hussein Musawi slammed the attack, saying that it targeted all the Lebanese.
In a statement, Musawi called for the Army to be given full backing while it pursued militants violating the sovereignty of Lebanese border villages and committing massacres.
He said that rejecting military aid for the Army from friendly states was an unforgivable crime against the nation, a reference to a controversial offer of Iranian assistance that the Lebanese government has not yet accepted.
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel also mourned the loss of the seven soldiers.
According to Moqbel, the militants resorted to “this dishonorable and cowardly method after experiencing the strength, toughness and determination of the Army.”
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian stressed that the attack against the Army was an aggression against all of Lebanon.
In comments made in Cairo, where he is attending a conference, Derian said: “The Lebanese Army is the country’s security valve, and any targeting of its members is a criminal and terrorist act that is not approved by any religion.”
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly joined in the condemnations of the attack.
According to a statement released by his press office, Plumbly paid tribute to the determination and dedication shown by the Lebanese Army in its efforts to maintain security and stability, and underlined the commitment of the U.N. and the international community to support the Army.
The French Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack, repeating its support for Lebanon and its institutions.
Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam said that terrorists would fail to prove that the Lebanese Army was unable to protect Lebanon’s borders and MP Talal Arslan also said the Army should receive unconditional support from all the Lebanese.
Separately, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said that winning the freedom of at least 26 servicemen captured by ISIS and the Nusra Front was not happening anytime soon.
“This is an issue that will require a lot of time and will not be resolved soon,” Machnouk said during an interview with MTV television station.
The minister said that Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the head of the General Security, was officially handling negotiations to release the security personnel.
“There are also negotiations carried out by Health Minister Wael Abu Faour. Nobody else [other than these two] is involved in the negotiations and this issue is being followed upon closely,” he said.
Machnouk said that security services were coordinating on a daily basis over the case, adding that a Syrian mediator appointed by Qatar was still carrying out his job.
Machnouk confirmed that fugitive Shadi Mawlawi, an Islamist who fought deadly battles against the Army in Tripoli in October, had fled to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in Sidon.

In face of beheading, Iraqi children proclaim love for Jesus
By ARIEL COHEN/12/03/2014/J.Post
More than 250,000 Christians have fled Northern Iraq amidst ISIS persecution.
When ISIS militants gave four Iraqi children the choice of converting to Islam or death by beheading, the children chose to follow Jesus, the Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, stated in an interview with the Orthodox Christian Network.
“Islamic State turned up and said to the children, you say the words that you will follow Mohammed,” White stated. “The children, all under 15, four of them, said ‘No, we love Yesua (the Iraqi name for Jesus), we have always loved Yesua, we have always followed Yesua, Yesua has always been with us.’”Then once again, the ISIS militants forced the children to convert and yet again they refused. The terrorists decapitated all four children.
White, who has received personal death threats from the Islamic State, currently resides in Israel. He has said that it is “impossible” for Christians to live in Iraq due to the relentless persecution of the religious minority.
More than 250,000 Christians have fled Northern Iraq amid ISIS persecution. These were the last Christians residing in the region, which has been hostile to the religious minority since the beginning of the war.
“Things were bad in Baghdad, there were bombs and shootings and our people were being killed, so many of our people fled back to Nineveh, their traditional home,” Canon said, describing the volatile situation for Christians in Iraq.
“It was safer, but then one day, ISIS – Islamic State... They came in and they hounded all of them out. They killed huge numbers, they chopped their children in half, they chopped their heads off, and they moved north and it was so terrible what happened."

Hezbollah's Syria Problem
Matthew Levitt/Politico
December 4, 2014
The question remains open as to how effective the Iranian proxy can be fighting simultaneously against the Syrian rebels and the Israeli military.
Hezbollah wants the world to know it still wants death to Israel, it's just really busy right now. As Iranian and P5+1 negotiators met in Vienna against a looming deadline and prospects for a deal over Tehran's nuclear program seemed increasingly dim, Iran's primary militant proxy -- Lebanese Hezbollah -- chimed in with news of its own. In an interview with Iran's Tansim news agency, Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem announced that with Iran's help the group had acquired advanced Iranian missiles with "pinpoint accuracy" that it could use in any future war with Israel. In other words, should negotiations fail Israel should think twice before carrying out a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
This is not exactly an empty threat -- though in point of fact Hezbollah has been making noise about its continued focus on fighting Israel for some time now, despite (or perhaps because of) its strong desire to avoid a full-fledged war with Israel at the present time.
In case it wasn't already clear, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wants anyone who's listening to know this: Hezbollah stands fully prepared to fight Israel despite the group's deep involvement in an entirely different battle in Syria. At least that was the message of Nasrallah's annual speech marking the Shiite holy day of Ashura in November. What he didn't say, and is loath to publicly admit, is that Hezbollah desperately wants to avoid a full-blown military conflict with Israel right now and is therefore limiting its attacks on Israel to small and infrequent roadside bombs along the Lebanese border and attacks by local proxies on the Golan Heights.
In the hornet's nest that is the Middle East, filled with splinter terror groups of all persuasions, Hezbollah -- long financed and supplied by Iran and based in Lebanon -- has proved one of the most resilient, adaptable, and deadliest. Now, in its newest evolution, instead of its traditional strategy of attacking Israel and, occasionally, Western interests, Hezbollah has found itself consumed by the three-year-old war against Bashar al Assad's regime in Syria where, together with Iranian operatives, it's squaring off against Sunnis of all stripes, from Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIL to moderate Sunni rebels, in defense of the Syrian regime.
Today Hezbollah is far more active targeting Israeli and Jewish interests -- especially Israeli diplomats or tourists -- in plots that can be carried out far away from Lebanon and executed with reasonable deniability.
Hezbollah's new strategy, borne out of necessity rather than strength, is a mixed blessing. It marks a significant -- and underreported -- development in one of the longest-running proxy fights in the Middle East, ushering in an era that has increased the security of Israeli citizens at home while simultaneously boosting the risk faced by Israeli tourists and diplomats aboard -- and potentially boosting the terrorism risk to U.S. citizens around the world.
In the plus column for Israel, Hezbollah's army-like militia, the Islamic Resistance, is heavily occupied fighting Sunnis both in Syria and increasingly at home in Lebanon as well, reducing in the near term the likelihood of another full-blown war with Israel. However, Hezbollah's use of local proxies and terrorist operatives dispatched around the world is likely to increase in frequency and, as U.S. counterterrorism officials have warned, these plots may not be limited to targeting Israeli interests alone.
Hezbollah "is fully ready in southern Lebanon," Nasrallah stressed in his recent address, despite being bogged down in the Syrian war, where it has already lost as many as a thousand experienced fighters (this is a significant loss for a group believed to have only about 5,000 full-time, highly trained fighters and as many as 20,000-50,000 part-time reservists). It is in Southern Lebanon, along the UN-demarcated "Blue Line" delineating the Israeli-Lebanese border, that Hezbollah faces off in the most immediate way with Israel. Hezbollah last instigated a full-blown war there in 2006.
Today, Nasrallah seeks to deter Israel from taking advantage of the fact that Hezbollah is enmeshed in the Syrian war and initiating a confrontation of its own to undermine Hezbollah capabilities in Southern Lebanon. Indeed, this is a message Hezbollah has been proactively peddling for some time now. For example, in October -- for the first time since the July 2006 war -- Hezbollah publicly claimed responsibility for an attack against Israel after two soldiers were wounded by a bomb planted along the Lebanese border. Then, too, Nasrallah pointed to the attack as evidence that despite Hezbollah's massive investment in Syria "our eyes remain open and our resistance is ready to confront the Israeli enemy."
Bravado aside, though, the attack was hardly Hezbollah's best work. It was small in scope and only mildly successful: No one was killed by the relatively small homemade explosive, and unlike previous operations no Hezbollah commandos were on call to grab wounded Israeli soldiers and drag them into Lebanon to be used as bargaining chips -- dead or alive -- in a future prisoner swap. Why? Because while Hezbollah wants to maintain its credentials as an anti-Israel fighting force, it can't afford a full-scale battle with the Jewish state in Southern Lebanon while committed to fighting Sunnis in Syria and increasingly forced to do the same at home in Lebanon. Nor does it want to take the chance of inviting the Israeli air force to respond in Syria, where Israeli airstrikes could severely damage Hezbollah and other forces loyal to the Assad regime.
It should therefore not surprise that Hezbollah has chosen to recruit and dispatch local proxies to place roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) near the border fence between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. Israeli military officials point to 15 such attacks since March. "It's a proxy organization [that places these bombs], so everyone can say it's not us," an Israeli general told the New York Times. "Hezbollah gives them the IEDs and the Iranians give them the inspiration."
In his latest remarks, Nasrallah warned that in any future war Israel "would have to shut down Ben Gurion airport and Haifa port," but that's not exactly news. Hezbollah fired rockets from Lebanon at the Haifa port in 2006 and Hamas shot its own from the Gaza Strip toward Ben Gurion airport this past summer. And yet, Nasrallah was not just talking tough when he asserted that "the resistance is a real threat to Israel." Hezbollah's most significant plots targeting Israel today are to be found much farther away than the border fences along Israel's northern frontiers with Lebanon and Syria.
"Beyond its role in Syria," Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) warned in September, "Lebanese Hezbollah remains committed to conducting terrorist activities worldwide." Nor are these plots only Israel's concern. The NCTC director continued: "We remain concerned the group's activities could either endanger or target U.S. and other Western interests."
NCTC officials note that Hezbollah "has engaged in an aggressive terrorist campaign in recent years and continues attack planning abroad." Over the past few years Hezbollah plots either failed or were foiled as far afield as South Africa, Azerbaijan, India, Nigeria, Cyprus, and Turkey. In Bulgaria, Hezbollah operatives blew up a bus of Israeli tourists at the Burgas airport. Just this year two Hezbollah plots were thwarted, one in Thailand and another in Peru.
In April, two Hezbollah operatives were arrested in Thailand, one of whom admitted that the two were there to carry out a bomb attack targeting Israeli tourists in Bangkok, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. The plots underscored the threat posed by Hezbollah to civilian centers, the officials added. Authorities were also concerned that the operatives were Lebanese dual citizens, one a French national and the other Filipino.
More recently, Peruvian counterterrorism police arrested a Hezbollah operative in Lima last month, the result of a surveillance operation that began in July. Mohammed Amadar, a Lebanese citizen, arrived in Peru in November 2013 and married a dual Peruvian-American woman two weeks later. They soon moved to Brazil, living in Sao Paulo until they returned to Lima in July 2014. Authorities were clearly aware of Amadar at the time, because they questioned him on arrival at the airport and began watching him then. When he was arrested in October, police raided his home and found traces of TNT, detonators, and other inflammable substances. A search of the garbage outside his home found chemicals used to manufacture explosives. By the time of his arrest, intelligence indicated Amadar's targets included places associated with Israelis and Jews in Peru, including areas popular with Israeli backpackers, the Israeli embassy in Lima, and Jewish community institutions.
Hezbollah has long been active in South America, from the Triborder Area where the borders of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet to Chile, Uruguay, and more. This trend continues, as the State Department noted in its latest annual terrorism report, where it highlighted the financial support networks Hezbollah maintains in places like Latin America and Africa. According to Brazilian police reports revealed publicly just last week, Hezbollah helped a Brazilian prison gang, the First Capital Command (PCC), obtain weapons in exchange for protecting prisoners of Lebanese origin detained in Brazil. Lebanese traffickers tied to Hezbollah reportedly helped sell C4 explosives that the PCC allegedly stole in Paraguay.
Moreover, the juxtaposition of Hezbollah plotting in Thailand and South America is nothing new: In 1994, Hezbollah nearly blew up the Israeli embassy in Bangkok just weeks before it successfully bombed the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. But this year's plots in Thailand and Peru may have a stronger connection than appears at first glance.
Two years ago, local authorities thwarted an earlier Hezbollah plot targeting Israeli and possibly American tourists in Bangkok in January 2012. Hussein Atris, a dual Lebanese-Swedish citizen and Hezbollah operative, led police to a warehouse where he had been stockpiling explosive precursor materials, presumably for future Hezbollah operations. But that's not all: some of the materials -- including five tons of fertilizer and 400 liters of ammonium nitrate -- were already distilled into crystal form, a step in building bombs. Information on international shipping forms found at the scene indicated that at least some of the explosives -- which were stored in bags marked as cat litter -- were intended to be shipped abroad. Israeli intelligence officials surmised that Hezbollah had been using Thailand as an explosives hub, noting that Atris had rented the space a year earlier. The conclusion should not have been a surprise: U.S. officials had already determined that Hezbollah was known to use Bangkok as a logistics and transportation hub, describing the city as "a center for a [Hezbollah] cocaine and money-laundering network."
The documents seized at the Hezbollah warehouse reportedly included some suggesting that shipments of explosive precursor materials had already been shipped to South America, though that was never confirmed. Did Hezbollah already ship some of the crystalized explosive material out of Thailand before Thai police raided its explosives hub in 2012? Were the Hezbollah bomb plots thwarted in Bangkok and Peru this year supposed to have used some of the explosive materials from Hezbollah's Bangkok stockpile?
We may never know the answers to these questions, which is just how Nasrallah wants it. He can reasonably deny any knowledge of or role in reported plots targeting Israelis, Americans or other Westerners abroad, even if these are the primary means by which Hezbollah remains capable of targeting Israel today. Sure, Hezbollah has its local proxies on the Golan Heights too, but Nasrallah will not publicly acknowledge those either -- that's the point of employing deniable proxies. It's an odd situation when Hezbollah, which has always been a proxy for Iran, begins to employ its own proxies. But the group has shown in Iraq and now in Syria that it can and does train and deploy proxies of its own -- though these, too, are ultimately proxies of Iran.
This much is clear: Hezbollah remains an immediate threat to Israel, even while it is bogged down in Syria. That much Nasrallah wants us all to know. To be sure, roadside border bombings will continue from time to time, and Hezbollah may even claim responsibility for some of these. But because of its desire to avoid opening a second front with Israel at the present time, the Hezbollah threat to Israel today is in some ways more acute oceans away -- in places as far afield as Thailand and Peru -- than it is along its northern borders.
There's one looming unknown in the modern geopolitical environment, though, that could rapidly reshape and refocus Hezbollah's strategy: If Israeli warplanes do at some point strike Iranian nuclear facilities, all bets are off. Hezbollah will surely shoot at least some of those "pinpoint" rockets at Israeli critical infrastructure, even as it continues to pick up the pace of Peru-style operations abroad. As for how committed and effective can Hezbollah be as a fighting force battling at Iran's behest both Syrian rebels and the Israeli military at the same time? That is an open question, but it's one that both Hezbollah and Iran are likely trying to answer fairly quickly.
**Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute, and author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. Follow him on Twitter: @Levitt_Matt.

Lapid to Netanyahu: You are out of touch, you live in an aquarium
Livni: Netanyahu is a liar and afraid
By NIV ELIS/12/03/2014/J.Post
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said Wednesday night he was running for prime minister, and that Benjamin Netanyahu would not form the next government. “He made a mistake and the price of this mistake is that he won’t be the prime minister,” Lapid said at a press conference in Tel Aviv, referring to Netanyahu’s decision to dissolve the coalition. Lapid, who spent most of the speech directly addressing the current premier, accused him of launching “unnecessary” early elections out of his own self-interest and against the will of the Israeli public. “Why? Because you are disconnected. You have no idea what it does to the citizens of Israel because you live in your aquarium and for a long time now you don’t know who the people are and what really troubles them,” Lapid said.
By calling for early elections and thus blocking passage of the 2015 budget and all its attendant policies, Lapid said Netanyahu prevented increased defense, education and health spending; blocked an agreement on the public sector minimum wage; and stopped housing plans from moving forward. He also disparaged Netanyahu’s tenure in office, saying he had walked away from a diplomatic initiative that would have demilitarized Gaza during the summer war and constantly alienated the United States, Israel’s most important ally, “Our relations with the US are our greatest security interest. Try and explain to them that you are so disconnected that you believe the US is still living in the eighties. You used to understand America but America changed and you’re disconnected,” Lapid said.
Finally, Lapid denied that he and outgoing Justice Minister Tzipi Livni attempted to overthrow Netanyahu in a political “putsch,” as the prime minister asserted in a press conference on Tuesday. “I tried to overthrow you? Do you hear yourself? Who sold you that absurdity? And what caused you listen to it?” Lapid promised voters that he would pick up where he left off on his policy agenda following the elections, which are scheduled for March 17.

Turkey no Friend of the West
by Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun
December 4, 2014
Pope Francis and President Erdogan have vastly different views of what constitutes moderation and tolerance. Last week, Pope Francis paid a visit to Turkey in what was seen as an attempt to align the Catholic church with moderate Muslims.
In a gesture of goodwill, Pope Francis visited the Blue Mosque, one of the masterpieces of Ottoman architecture, where he turned east toward Mecca, clasped his hands and paused for two minutes as the Grand Mufti of Istanbul delivered an Islamic prayer.
Earlier on Friday, the pontiff met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In an address following the meeting, the Pope condemned the Islamic State's (ISIS) assault on Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. He would later say ISIS was committing a "grave sin against God."
To ensure his condemnation of ISIS was not misinterpreted, Pope Francis also denounced people "who say that all Muslims are terrorists." If the pontiff thought Turkey's leader was the moderate Muslim who would reciprocate in kind, he was setting himself up for disappointment. On the same day the pontiff met president Erdogan, the Turkish leader delivered a blistering attack on the West, claiming, "They (the West) look like friends, but they want us dead — they like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact?"
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported Erdogan as saying: "Believe me, they don't like us."
In an incendiary attack on his NATO partners, Erdogan said they "love oil, gold, diamonds, and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world." The Pope could have taken a less appeasing attitude by standing up to the supremacist and arrogant attitude of global Islamism that poses a threat to human civilization in many ways.
At the state level, countries like Turkey and Qatar are behind the phenomenon of the Islamic State. Elsewhere, Saudi billionaires and institutions fund mosques and Islamist organizations in Canada and the U.S., while in countries like Pakistan, Islamist mobs recently threw a young Christian couple into a brick kiln after breaking their bones, on charges of committing blasphemy.
Appeasement of the Islamists only strengthens them and weakens the Muslims fighting jihadists on the military and ideological battlefields. The pope could have been firmer. He should have raised the issue of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, which for almost 1,000 years was Orthodox Christianity's Kaaba so to speak, but which was forcibly converted into a mosque by Muslim invaders in 1453 Ottoman conquest, and later was turned into a museum in 1935.
If Islamists and leaders of Islamic countries truly wished to reciprocate to the pope's gestures with an olive branch, what better way than to hand the Hagia Sophia back to Orthodox Christianity. Perhaps Erdogan's harsh response to the pope's gesture will make the West realize that Turkey is not an ally, but our enemy.
Appeasement of the Islamists only strengthens them and weakens the Muslims fighting jihadists on the military and ideological battlefields. Whether its the RCMP reaching out to Islamists in Canada or the Pope extending a hand of friendship to Erdogan, the outcome is written on the wall.
**Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.

Lapid to Netanyahu: You are out of touch, you live in an aquarium
Livni: Netanyahu is a liar and afraid/By NIV ELIS/12/03/2014/J.Post
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said Wednesday night he was running for prime minister, and that Benjamin Netanyahu would not form the next government. “He made a mistake and the price of this mistake is that he won’t be the prime minister,” Lapid said at a press conference in Tel Aviv, referring to Netanyahu’s decision to dissolve the coalition. Lapid, who spent most of the speech directly addressing the current premier, accused him of launching “unnecessary” early elections out of his own self-interest and against the will of the Israeli public.“Why? Because you are disconnected. You have no idea what it does to the citizens of Israel because you live in your aquarium and for a long time now you don’t know who the people are and what really troubles them,” Lapid said.
By calling for early elections and thus blocking passage of the 2015 budget and all its attendant policies, Lapid said Netanyahu prevented increased defense, education and health spending; blocked an agreement on the public sector minimum wage; and stopped housing plans from moving forward. He also disparaged Netanyahu’s tenure in office, saying he had walked away from a diplomatic initiative that would have demilitarized Gaza during the summer war and constantly alienated the United States, Israel’s most important ally, “Our relations with the US are our greatest security interest. Try and explain to them that you are so disconnected that you believe the US is still living in the eighties. You used to understand America but America changed and you’re disconnected,” Lapid said.
Finally, Lapid denied that he and outgoing Justice Minister Tzipi Livni attempted to overthrow Netanyahu in a political “putsch,” as the prime minister asserted in a press conference on Tuesday.
“I tried to overthrow you? Do you hear yourself? Who sold you that absurdity? And what caused you listen to it?” Lapid promised voters that he would pick up where he left off on his policy agenda following the elections, which are scheduled for March 17.

U.S. officials report first Iranian airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq

Agencies/Dec. 04, 2014 /WASHINGTON / BRUSSELS: Iranian jets have carried out airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS militants in recent days, U.S. officials and independent analysts say. It has long been known that Iranian troops and advisers have been fighting alongside Iraqi forces against ISIS but until this week there had been no confirmation of Iranian air activity. The timing and nature of the strikes aren’t clear, but U.S. officials say some involved American-made F-4 Phantoms, twin-engine fighter-bombers that were sold to Iran’s U.S.-backed shah in the 1970s, and were last produced by McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in 1981. Al-Jazeera filmed a jet flying over Iraq on Nov. 30 that was identified by magazine Jane’s Defense Weekly as an Iranian Phantom.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that the airstrikes had taken place in an eastern region where U.S. warplanes do not operate. “It was in eastern Diyala province,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren said. “We have not had any air activity there.”
The bombing run marked the first time the Iranian air force had flown its F-4 fighters in a combat mission against ISIS, U.S. officials said. “This is the first time we’ve seen it,” Warren told reporters. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denied that Iran had cooperated with the U.S.-led coalition, but she neither confirmed nor denied the news. The news came as top officials from 60 countries met in Brussels to hold the first high-level meeting to discuss the international campaign against ISIS.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iranian attacks would represent a positive development.
“I think it’s self-evident that if Iran is taking on ISIL in some particular place, and it’s confined to taking on ISIL, and it has an impact, its net effect is positive,” Kerry told reporters, using another acronym for the group. “But that’s not something we’re coordinating.”
Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi told reporters, “I’m not aware there were Iranian airstrikes.” Abadi also announced that Iraq would formally ask NATO to help improve its military capacities, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said. The request will have to be reviewed by representatives of NATO’s 28 member nations, she said. Most experts believe that even if there is no direct military coordination between historic foes Iran and the United States, some degree of information sharing must be in place – most likely via the Iraqi authorities. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby hinted as much. “We are flying missions over Iraq. We coordinate with the Iraqi government as we conduct those. It’s up to the Iraqi government to de-conflict that air space,” Kirby told reporters.
“Nothing has changed about our policy of not coordinating military activity with the Iranians.” The administration’s very different approaches to the situation in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS holds territory, remain an obstacle to bringing along countries such as Turkey into the coalition. Ankara is demanding that Washington commit to toppling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Speaking at a business roundtable in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama commented that he was confident the coalition would be able to push back ISIS in Iraq, but called Syria a more difficult, long-term problem.
For his part, Assad criticized the Western and Arab airstrikes for having no effect. “You can’t end terrorism with aerial strikes. Troops on the ground that know the land and can react are essential,” he said in this week’s edition of French magazine Paris Match.
“That is why there haven’t been any tangible results in the two months of strikes led by the coalition. They would of course have helped had they been serious and efficient.”

Lebanon is an autumn leaf in a gale
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
Thursday, 4 Dec, 2014
As I was writing this article, the suffering of the Lebanese military personnel taken hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front took a dramatic turn. The hostages’ families suspended their street protest upon hearing the news that a woman and child alleged to be the wife and daughter of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s leader, had been arrested on Lebanese soil. Since then, some reports have been published which say the woman detained in Beirut is linked to a leader of Al-Nusra, and not ISIS.
According to Lebanese security sources, who are now the sole official source for both news and leaks in the total absence of truly reliable media reports, the woman and the child with her were arrested by the Lebanese army’s intelligence service. Without casting too much doubt or delving too much into endless details—details that no-one can confirm as true, or how and when they are being leaked—the most significant detail is surely that the woman and her daughter (or, as some reports say, her son) were arrested 10 days ago. Yes, 10 days ago!
A surprise such as this highlights several issues, the most important of which is that the normal political life the Lebanese like to tell themselves they enjoy is gone. With its disappearance, the people of Lebanon are back where they were before, i.e., back to being mere insignificant spectators of a “Game of Nations” being played out by domestic, Arab, regional, and international intelligence agencies in their country. As of today, it is not only the families of the military hostages who are autumn leaves blown by the winds of malevolent political projects, swirling about the corpse of the Lebanese state; it is all the Lebanese and the peoples of the Levant.
It is no exaggeration to say that Lebanon and other entities in the region have entered a post-independence era, one which follows that which began with the League of Nations mandates of 1920 and the creation of Israel in 1948. Thus these entities are currently facing an existential challenge made more difficult by conflicting sectarian and nationalistic projects, the renaissance of imperialist dreams of non-Arab powers and their penetration of and expansion within the region, and the fear felt by minorities who are now implicitly—or even openly—seeking foreign protection.
Facing a climate such as this, grand political slogans sound like unrealistic dreams, the issue of sovereignty a bad joke, and the idea of a historic leader or “strong president” (as Michel Aoun claims he would be) a silly, quixotic boast.
A few days ago, Gebran Bassil, Lebanon’s foreign minister and Aoun’s son-in-law, made a speech before the 15th Francophone Summit in Senegal, in which he said that “Lebanon is today in the eye of the storm,” and that “both regional instability and the Syrian conflict are reflected in our country, which is now encountering existential challenges that are the most dangerous in its modern history.”
He went on to add: “On the internal political stability front, Lebanon’s political life is finding it difficult to function normally. It is essential that a president is elected without foreign intervention, and vote through a new more democratic and fairer electoral system.”
He also raised the issue of the impact of the mass exodus of Syrian refugees, pointing out that they, along with the Palestinian refugees already in Lebanon, now number more than 2 million, compared to Lebanon’s pre-war population of 4 million. This unhappy situation is a costly one, and Lebanon—as Bassil put it—is forced, given its unique generosity, to balance humanitarian concerns with its unquestionable duty to protect itself.
Bassil also addressed the issue of terrorism, saying that Lebanon found itself in the cross-hairs “of terrorist groups like ISIS, whose aim is to spread fear and extremism and extend its influence to our land.” These groups, Bassil added, “carry a thought alien to our tolerant culture, and our pluralist political system; and we have responded by deploying the army which since then has been fighting them until they are eradicated.”
These are strong words indeed. However, they would have been more meaningful had the speaker been someone other than Bassil. The “Aounist” minister said only one part of a larger truth, a part that suits him and his party.
To begin with, on the issue of “internal political stability,” Mr. Bassil is right in saying that Lebanon’s political life is not functioning normally. But the reason for this is that state institutions, and indeed even the whole state, is now subservient to Hezbollah, which is theocratic–sectarian, militaristic, and whose loyalty and ultimate leadership lie outside Lebanon, and Hezbollah is Mr. Bassil’s party’s main ally. It is now almost impossible to see where the role of Hezbollah ends and the Lebanese government’s begins, bearing in mind that the former claims it believes in Lebanon’s sovereignty. Furthermore, it was the Hezbollah–Aoun alliance that prevented the election of a new president, because Iran and Syria insist on imposing Aoun as president in the same way Hezbollah’s votes have made him leader of the largest Christian parliamentary bloc. Finally, talking of “a more democratic and fairer electoral system,” demographic realities in Lebanon mean that if a fair electoral system is literally adopted it would give the Christians only one third of the seats as compared to the 50 percent ensured under the Taif Accords, which Hezbollah and Aoun oppose.
On the issue of Syrian refugees, these refugees ran away from a bloody conflict stoked by a regime which has killed around 300,000 of its own people, and displaced around 10 million more, mostly old people, women, and children. The irony here is that Mr. Bassil is a friend of that same regime, and is proud to defend and regard it as a political ally; and when the refugees’ plight worsened his party played a leading role in inciting popular anger against them.
Last but not least, on the issue of the terrorist threat, there is no doubt that ISIS poses a great threat to Lebanon, as well as the Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Nusra, and Fatah Al-Islam before them. However, these groups appeared on the Lebanese scene after Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian conflict on the regime’s side. Similar organizations and gangs were implanted and spread out in Lebanon when it was under full control of the Syrian–Lebanese security apparatus, the same way today’s extremist groups were born and grew within Syria itself under the very eyes of its well-known police state.
Bearing this in mind, it could be argued that sectarian terrorism is not exclusive to a single religious sect, and that Washington—which seems happy for the Assad regime to remain in power, and keen to have Iran as an ally—has always viewed Iran as a rogue state and “supporter of terrorism,” and still labels Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Given these facts, there is a serious danger that Hezbollah and the Lebanese state, particularly the Lebanese army, will become two faces of the same coin, and will push the army into a war against terrorists that is pursued selectively and based on double standards.
Lebanon, with its weak and fragile institutions and society and political paralysis, is ill-equipped to survive such a war.

Politically, the Army gains on Hezbollah
Michael Young/The Daily Star
Dec. 04, 2014
The killing of six soldiers near Ras Baalbek Tuesday concealed a broader political message, one with significant implications for Hezbollah: The primary defender of domestic peace and cross-border threats is the Lebanese Army. For a long time Hezbollah sought to undermine that belief.
The party’s calculation was a simple one. If the Army was regarded as a credible protector of Lebanese stability and sovereignty, it would become more difficult for Hezbollah to justify retaining a weapons arsenal independent from the state.
Yet in the past year the situation has changed somewhat, caused by political circumstances. When car bombs began going off in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Hezbollah set up roadblocks to inspect all vehicles. The long waiting times provoked growing resentment from inhabitants and businesses that were losing customers from outside the area. At the same time the party was increasingly sensitive to accusations that it was engaging in autonomous security. To deflect blame from itself, Hezbollah allowed the Army to man the roadblocks, just as it had earlier granted the Internal Security Forces more latitude to fight rising crime rates in the suburbs.
None of these moves was seen by Hezbollah as more than a convenient way to reduce resentment. Neither the Army nor the security forces seriously damaged Hezbollah’s political or military self-rule in districts the party controls.
But can the same thing be said of the Army’s behavior along the border with Syria? Hezbollah is stuck in the Syrian quagmire, with no signs that it is winning the battle. Hundreds of party members have been killed in the past year and more, according to most reports, and Hezbollah now faces an Islamist enemy as determined to prevail as it is, if not more so.
In order to cut off supply lines between Lebanon and Syria, and in that way strangle Bashar Assad’s enemies in the Qalamoun district, Hezbollah has pushed the Lebanese Army to engage in border interdiction. Ironically, this had always been a demand of Hezbollah’s political rivals, until the party saw the advantages. The United Kingdom entered the breach and has sponsored the building of a network of border towers from Akkar down to the northern Bekaa Valley, which eventually will reach Masnaa on the Beirut-Damascus highway.
No one doubts that Hezbollah is still able to transfer weapons through the northern Bekaa border, and that the Army will avoid confronting the party on such transfers. And it would be naive to assume that Hezbollah permitted the Army’s deployment along the border as part of anything but a scheme to ultimately defeat Syrian opposition forces in Qalamoun.
However, there are three aspects of this worth examining more closely. First, military considerations aside, from a political perspective most Lebanese can clearly see that it is the Army, not Hezbollah, that holds the primary line of defense along the border. When we recall that years ago then -President Emile Lahoud drew on his deep reservoir of strategic wisdom to explain why it was best for the Lebanese Army to position itself away from the border with Israel, it is clear that now the military is taken more seriously.
Secondly, the Army’s reinforcement of the border is increasingly being interpreted as evidence of Hezbollah’s doubts about the Syrian war. The assumption is that the party, realizing that the Assad regime is at serious risk of collapsing, is going along with a plan that would isolate Lebanon from the chaos in Syria if that happened. In that way, border interdiction by the Army becomes necessary from a national-security perspective.
If this interpretation is correct, it would show not only that Hezbollah is realistic about the limits of its role in Syria, but also about the limits of its ability to defend Lebanon. This would be a powerful, if implicit, concession by the party, one certain to prompt new demands that Hezbollah surrender its arms.
Third, as most Lebanese have seen in recent months, the only institution capable of maintaining civil peace is the Army. This was especially true during the recent attack against militant Islamists in Tripoli, just as it has been true on the countless occasions the military has intervened to prevent neighborhood clashes from turning into larger sectarian battles.
Critics will respond that all too often the Army has served Hezbollah’s agenda. Perhaps, but when Hezbollah’s agenda, shifting to accommodate the challenges the party’s errors have placed in its path, favors measures that, unintentionally, strengthen the state’s authority as the ultimate guarantor of civil peace and national security, that is a good thing. And as the Army gains in credibility and purpose, it will be increasingly less disposed to march to Hezbollah’s drumbeat, even if it has no intention of entering into a confrontation with the party.
Perhaps that’s why Hezbollah is so reluctant to bring in a new president today. It senses that the mood is changing in Lebanon and that the Army’s improved standing could push a president to go further than did Michel Sleiman in criticism of the party’s weapons. That anxiety was not present last year when Hezbollah felt it was winning in Syria, and hoped to use a victory there to impose a favored candidate on the Lebanese.
All this may represent measured gains against Hezbollah’s refusal to disarm voluntarily. But they are gains nonetheless. Hezbollah is losing men to defend the Assad regime, the Army to defend Lebanese territory. That conclusion may best illustrate where the Lebanese presently stand on the party.
**Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR. He tweets @BeirutCalling.

Arrest of an ISIS ex-wife: Between truth and distortions
Thursday, 4 December 2014
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
It’s been said that truth is the first casualty of war, and it is manifested on full display in Lebanon this week as details on the arrest of Suja al-Duraimi range from stagecraft to pure fiction. News on the apparent capture of the ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi took many theatrical turns and twists, raising doubts about the actual occurrence, and minimizing the leverage that the Lebanese government is hoping to gain in releasing the kidnapped soldiers.
In the last 48 hours and since the news first broke in Lebanon’s Assafir newspaper, there has been multiple versions of what happened, each depending on the outlet and the language reporting it. Lebanese officials appear to have been telling the local media one narrative, and the international media another. Headlines on CNN for example read that Suja al-Dulaimi was arrested on the border with Syria with her son, while those in Lebanon said she was inside the country with three children and a new husband. An Iraqi official has also come out to say the woman detained in Lebanon is not connected to Baghdadi at all but is the sister of a man convicted of bombings in southern Iraq.
Suja al-Dulaimi’s arrest
Until now, there is not one official narrative on how al-Dulaimi was arrested or who was accompanying her. Lebanese media outlets such as LBCI reported that al-Dulaimi was detained by the Lebanese army at the Madfoun checkpoint connecting the North with Beirut, while CNN quoting an intelligence source said al-Dulaimi was arrested as part of a “planned operation” when she “tried to enter Lebanon.” LBCI’s information suggests that al-Dulaimi had three children with her, but that number changes to a 10-year-old son in most English-speaking outlets.
Sources in Beirut with knowledge of the investigation tell me that al-Dulaimi has been living in Lebanon in the remote Northern area of Dineye since her release from the Syrian regime jails and as part of a prisoner swap last March. My sources also say that she was in the car with three children when the arrest was made and one of them is her four-year-old daughter Hagar that according to the Lebanese Minister of Interior Nouhad al-Machnouk who spoke on MTV was confirmed through DNA tests to be Baghdadi’s daughter.
Several reports mistakenly indicated that al-Dulaimi identified herself during the investigation to be Baghdadi’s ex-wife. Most in-depth reporting coming from Lebanon, however, said otherwise, pointing to a witty and carefully crafted answers from al-Dulaimi, where she never acknowledged directly to be married to Baghdadi. Machnouk confirmed in his interview with MTV last night that it’s the DNA testing on Hagar, Baghdadi’s and al-Dulaimi’s daughter that unraveled the connection. He also added that Lebanon acquired Baghdadi’s DNA from Iraq.
Significance and impact
The Lebanese government is hoping that the arrest of this woman will help leverage the release of 19 kidnapped soldiers.
The Lebanese authorities had been tracing al-Dulaimi’s calls for few months, according to Asharq al-Awsat, as she commuted between Bekaa valley and Dineye. Her arrest at a time when increased pressure is on the government to release the kidnapped soldiers is understood as an attempt to put leverage on ISIS and Nusra in the negotiations.
But it’s al-Dulaimi in particular that is the treasure trove for the Lebanese authorities. Her tribal roots descending from one of the largest and most widespread tribes in the Arab world, Dulaim, give her high status.
It is unlikely, however, that the arrest of Suja al-Dulaimi will produce a breakthrough on Baghdadi’s whereabouts. The former wife appears to have moved on and is now married to a Palestinian living in Lebanon. Also, the mysterious and risk-averse Baghdadi is unlikely to allow those close to him to live in Lebanon, a more exposed and open terrain to foreign intelligence. Where the arrest could prove helpful is in extracting information or cellular data on the al-Nusra Front or ISIS activities in Lebanon and using that to pressure for the release of the soldiers.
The al-Dulaimi arrest is a double-edged sword for the Lebanese government, it could add some leverage in the negotiations but it could also risk retaliation inside the country from these both ISIS and the al-Nusra Front. On Tuesday, gunmen crossing from Syria killed six soldiers in the town of Ras Baalbak and there is no indication yet that this arrest will change their calculus.

Aoun vs. Geagea: time to bridge the gap?
Wassim Mroueh/The Daily Star
Dec. 03, 2014
BEIRUT: In October 1989, Lebanese MPs signed the Taif agreement in Saudi Arabia in a bid to put an end to the country’s 15-year Civil War.
But few would have imagined that the last round of internal fighting, which began three months later, would be one of the fiercest: the military confrontation between Samir Geagea and Michel Aoun.
Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces militia, backed the Saudi-brokered deal, while Aoun, then Army commander and head of a transitional military government, refused to recognize it.
The ensuing war, dubbed a “war of elimination” by Geagea, who said Aoun’s aim was to wipe out his group, killed and wounded thousands and left much of the country’s Christian areas in tatters.
The violence lasted for months, pushing many Christians to emigrate from the country.
After more than two decades, the rivalry between both figures, now leaders of two of the largest Christian parliamentary blocs, is far from over.
While their current confrontation may not be leading to death and destruction, it has kept the top Christian post in the country vacant for over six months.
Backed by the March 8 coalition, Aoun argues that he represents Christians the most and thus should be elected the country’s new president.
But his claims are strongly disputed by Geagea, the presidential candidate of the March 14 coalition.
Parliament has failed to elect a president 15 times, with lawmakers from Aoun’s parliamentary bloc and most other March 8 MPs thwarting the quorum needed in electoral sessions under the pretext that no agreement has been reached on a candidate who truly represents Christians.
Even last year, Aoun and Geagea were unable to agree on a new election law to provide fairer representation for Christians.
According to Sami Nader, an economist and Middle Eastern affairs analyst, the struggle for power between Aoun and Geagea is “healthy and good” – so long as it remains democratic.
“The problem is when disputes happen at the expense of the republic. This leads to the fall of institutions and weakens the Christians first and foremost, and of course all Lebanese,” Nader told The Daily Star.
He explained that the rivalry between Aoun and Geagea should not cause Parliament’s failure to elect a president.
“The problem ... is that their disputes come at the expense of institutions. This continuous thwarting of presidential election is unacceptable,” Nader added.
Preventing quorum once or twice was understandable, he said, “but you can’t carry on with this method.”
“This undermines democracy and has led to committing a second mistake, which is the extension of Parliament’s term,” Nader added, referring to last month’s second extension of Parliament’s mandate for two years and seven months.
Some political factions backed the extension under the pretext that holding parliamentary elections during a presidential vacuum would cause constitutional problems.
Both Aoun and Geagea rose to prominence in the mid-1980s. Aoun was appointed an Army commander in June 1984, and less than two years later, in January 1986, Geagea assumed the leadership of the Lebanese Forces militia.
“From the very beginning, the dispute between them was personal, they approached things differently,” said Karim Pakradouni, the former leader of the Kataeb Party, who also served as Geagea’s deputy in the 1980s.
“Aoun considered Geagea to be the head of a militia while Geagea believed that Aoun led a failed institution that had proved itself to be ineffective during the Civil War,” Pakradouni said.
After Aoun went into self-imposed exile in France in 1991 and Geagea was sent to prison three years later, supporters of both struggled together against Syria’s military presence in Lebanon.
Following Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon in April 2005, Aoun quickly returned to the country and Geagea was released not long after, and before long, the sharp differences between the two resurfaced again.
Aoun signed a memorandum of understanding with Hezbollah in February 2006, while Geagea joined the March 14 coalition.
Pakradouni said he did not fear the effects of rivalry between Christian leaders, adding that such dynamics had characterized Lebanese politics since independence.
However, he said it was high time for Geagea, Aoun, Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel and MP Sleiman Frangieh of the Marada Movement to form a front aimed at discussing ways to protect Christians in Lebanon in light of the regional turmoil and rise of extremist, religiously intolerant Islamist groups.
“This dispute between Aoun and Geagea has been detrimental for Christians. It is depriving them of their highest post in the state and of an election law providing fair representation,” Pakradouni said.
The former minister said that joining one front to try to solve these problems did not mean that Aoun and Geagea would have to abandon their alliances altogether.
“I can never see them in one political alliance at all, but let them at least agree on going to Parliament to elect a president.”
And the frustration over Geagea and Aoun’s lack of agreement on key issues is filtering down to the general public.
Nicholas Muaiqel, a resident of the predominantly Christian Ashrafieh neighborhood of Beirut, is fed up with both leaders.
“Are these the only people who are good at politics in the country? Of course we need new leaders,” Muaiqel said, sitting in his shop.
After outlining atrocities he said Aoun and Geagea committed during the Civil War, Muaiqel added: “Now one is allied to the Shiites and the other to the Sunnis. But Sunnis and Shiites are actually fooling both.”
“I think we need a new mandatory power that would eradicate all this political class and get us a new one.”
For Ibrahim Haddad, the owner of a textile shop in the same neighborhood, the Lebanese were too busy to look for an alternative to Geagea, Aoun or any other leader.
“I am a Christian from Ashrafieh who is not loyal to any of these leaders,” he said.
“The average Lebanese citizen is interested in how to earn a living rather than how to build a state.”
Haddad said that the everlasting political disputes between Aoun and Geagea were definitely weakening Christians in Lebanon.
“But do they listen to me if I say so?” he added.
But Naji Hayek, an official from Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, argued otherwise.
“The rift between the Christians is not the reason for what is happening to them at all [the community’s weakness in Lebanon],” he said. “Between the Sunnis and Shiites it is worse ... they are killing each other in Syria.”
Regardless, Hayek pointed to the fact that the Future Movement supported the election of a speaker who truly represented Shiites and Hezbollah and Amal backed the nomination of a prime minister who is popular among Sunnis.
“When it comes to the Christians, nobody respects anything ... this is very offensive,” he said.
Hayek said the Future Movement should stop vetoing Aoun’s candidacy: “They should come and say: We respect the Christian will.”
Hayek said that the presidential candidate who represented Christians the most should become a president, adding: “Samir Geagea should accept that Michel Aoun represents Christians more than him.”
But such an arrangement would be even worse for the Christian community than the current situation, according to LF MP Fadi Karam.
“Aoun claims to be the head of the largest Christian bloc. Submission to him in a bid to prevent rivalry within the Christian society would be more destructive to the Christians,” Karam said.
He said that Aoun did not believe in institutions, was allied to authoritarian regimes, backed Hezbollah’s arsenal and did not believe that anyone other than him could work in politics. “Geagea does not accept all this, he believes in political competition and democracy ... there is a big difference between the two.”
“It is an existential issue and it is difficult to make any concessions.”

Jihad group quotes Qur’an to justify massacre of Christians
December 3, 2014/By Robert Spencer /Jihad Watch
Militants of al Shabaab train with weapons on a street in the outskirts of MogadishuSheikh Rage said: “We are uncompromising in our beliefs, relentless in our pursuit, ruthless against the disbelievers…”
“Muhammad is Allah’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” — Qur’an 48:29
“Al-Shabaab Vows to Be ‘Ruthless Against Disbelievers’ as U.S. ‘Barely Recognizes’ Christian Eradication in Iraq,” by Bridget Johnson, PJ Tatler, December 2, 2014:
As quarry workers slept early Tuesday morning in tents by their worksite outside Mandera, a Kenyan border city tucked between Ethiopia and Somalia, Al-Shabaab gunmen attacked.
The Muslims were reportedly separated from the non-Muslims, who were then murdered by gunshots at close range or beheading. Thirty-six men were killed.
The Kenyan government said Tuesday that there was no proof Al-Shabaab was exclusively targeting the Christians.
“We cannot say the Christians are the ones mostly targeted because even in the past, Muslims have been killed, and as we talk, everyone is worried,” North Eastern Regional Police Commander Patrick Lumumba said, according to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper. “The terrorists have no tribe or religion. The people can rest assured that these attacks are not directed at any certain tribe or religion.”
But Al-Shabaab’s media arm posted a statement saying the attack on Christian “crusaders” was in response to Kenya’s “occupation of Muslim lands” and “ongoing atrocities” toward Muslims in Somalia “as well as the continued suffering of Muslims in Mombasa.”
“As Kenya persists in its occupation of Muslim lands, kills innocent Muslims, transgresses upon their sanctities and throws them into prisons, we, Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, will persist to defend our land and our people from their aggression,” said Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage. “We are uncompromising in our beliefs, relentless in our pursuit, ruthless against the disbelievers and we will do whatever necessary to defend our Muslim brethren suffering from Kenya’s aggression.”…

Raymond Ibrahim: The Koran and Eternal War
December 3, 2014/By Robert Spencer/Jihad Watch
News recently emerged that Russia was banning key Islamic scriptures—including Sahih Bukhari—on the charge that they promote “exclusivity [supremacism] of one of the world’s religions,” namely Islam; or, in the words of a senior assistant to the prosecutor of Tatarstan Ruslan Galliev, “a militant Islam” which “arouses ethnic, religious enmity.”
If Sahih Bukhari, a nine-volume hadith collection compiled in the 9th century and seen by Sunni Muslims as second in importance only to the Koran itself is being banned for inciting hostility, where does that leave the Koran?
After all, if Sahih Bukhari contains pro-terrorism statements attributed to the prophet of Islam and calls to kill Muslims who leave Islam, the Koran, Islam’s number one holy book itself is full of intolerance and calls for violence against non-believers. A tiny sampling of proclamations from Allah follows:
•“I will cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, so strike [them] upon the necks [behead them] and strike from them every fingertip’” (Koran 8:12).
•“Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and who do not embrace the religion of truth [Islam], until they pay the jizya with willing submissiveness and feel themselves utterly subdued” (Koran 9:29).
• “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them—seize them, besiege them, and make ready to ambush them!” (Koran 9:5).
•“Fighting has been enjoined upon you [Muslims] while it is hateful to you” (2:216).
That Islam’s core texts incite violence and intolerance has many ramifications, for those willing to go down this path of logic.
For example, as I argued more fully here, although Muslims around the world, especially in the guise of the 57-member state Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), continue to push for the enforcement of “religious defamation” laws in the international arena, one great irony is lost, especially on Muslims: if such laws would ban movies and cartoons that defame Islam, they would also, by logical extension, need to ban the religion of Islam itself—the only religion whose core texts actively defame other religions.
Consider what the word “defamation” means: “to blacken another’s reputation” and “false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel,” are typical dictionary definitions.
What, then, do we do with Islam’s core religious texts—not just Sahih Bukhari but the Koran itself, which slanders, denigrates and blackens the reputation of other religions?
Consider Christianity alone: Koran 5:73 declares that “Infidels are they who say God [or “Allah”] is one of three,” a reference to the Christian Trinity; Koran 5:72 says “Infidels are they who say God is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary”; and Koran 9:30 complains that “the Christians say the Christ is the son of God … may Allah’s curse be upon them!”
Surely such verses defame the Christian religion and its central tenets—not to mention create hostility towards its practitioners.
In short, the argument that some Islamic books should be banned on grounds that they incite segregation and violence is applicable to the Koran itself, which unequivocally defames and creates hostility for unbelievers, that is, non-Muslims.
That said, in the “real world” (as it currently stands), the very idea of banning the Koran—believed by over a billion people to be the unalterable word of God—must seem inconceivable.
For starters, whenever Muslims are pressed about the violent verses in the Koran, they often take refuge in the argument that other scriptures of other religions are also replete with calls to violence and intolerance—so why single out the Koran?
To prove this, Muslim apologists almost always point to the Hebrew Scriptures, more widely known as the “Old Testament.” And in fact, the Old Testament is replete with violence and intolerance—all prompted by the Judeo-Christian God.
The difference between the violent passages in the Koran and those in the Old Testament (as more comprehensively explained here) is this: the Old Testament is clearly describing historic episodes whereas the Koran, while also developed within a historical context, uses generic, open-ended language that transcends time and space, inciting believers to attack and slay nonbelievers today no less than yesterday.
Thus in the Old Testament God commands the Hebrews to fight and kill “Hittites,” “Amorites,” “Canaanites,” “Perizzites,” “Hivites,” and “Jebusites”—all specific peoples rooted to a specific time and place; all specific peoples that have not existed for millennia. At no time did God give an open-ended command for the Hebrews, and by extension their Jewish descendants, to fight and kill all “unbelievers.”
To be sure, Muslims argue that the verses of the Koran also deal with temporal, historical opponents, including the polytheists of Mecca, and to a lesser extent, the Byzantine and Sassanian empires.
The problem, however, is that rarely if ever does the Koran specify who its antagonists are the way the Old Testament does. Instead, Muslims were (and are) commanded to fight the “People of the Book,” which Islamic exegesis interprets as people with scriptures, namely, Christians and Jews—“until they pay the jizya with willing submissiveness and feel themselves utterly subdued” (9:29) and to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5).
The two Arabic conjunctions “until” (hata) and “wherever” (haythu) demonstrate the perpetual and ubiquitous nature of these commandments: There are still “People of the Book” who have yet to “feel themselves utterly subdued” (especially all throughout the Americas, Europe, and Israel) and “idolaters” to be slain “wherever” one looks (especially Asia and sub-Saharan Africa).
In fact, the salient feature of almost all of the violent commandments in Islamic scriptures is their open-ended and generic nature: “Fight them until there is no more chaos and [all] religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39).
This fact will ensure that as long as the Koran proliferates and is read as God’s literal word, its readers will continue to exist in a dichotomized world, themselves versus the rest.

Veiled Muslima stabs American teacher to death in Abu Dhabi mall
December 3, 2014/By Robert Spencer/Jihad Watch
“The stabbing comes on the heels of a security warning posted by the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi in late October, advising Americans of a ‘recent anonymous posting on a Jihadist website that encouraged attacks against teachers at American and other international schools in the Middle East.'”“American school teacher stabbed to death in Abu Dhabi,”, December 3, 2014 (thanks to John):
Authorities in Abu Dhabi released CCTV footage Wednesday in the hunt for a suspect who stabbed an American school teacher to death in a public restroom at a mall.
A statement posted on the Abu Dhabi Interior Ministry’s website said the victim was stabbed Monday with a sharp tool that has been confiscated by police. The statement said the American woman was 37 years old. Her name has not been made public.
The stabbing comes on the heels of a security warning posted by the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi in late October, advising Americans of a “recent anonymous posting on a Jihadist website that encouraged attacks against teachers at American and other international schools in the Middle East.
“The Mission is unaware of any specific, credible threat against any American or other school or individual in the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” the warning reads. “Nonetheless, the Mission is working with local schools identified with the United States to review their security posture.”
In the video, the suspect, wearing a traditional black robe, full-face veil and gloves commonly worn by local women throughout the Arab Gulf region, is seen calmly walking into the mall in Abu Dhabi’s upscale Reem Island.
The suspect picks up a paper and disappears down a hallway. An hour and a half later, the suspect reappears and races toward an elevator. A woman tries to stop the suspect before she enters, but retreats. The suspect then quickly walks out the doors of the mall.
The victim had 11 year-old twins who are now in the custody of police until their father, who is the victim’s ex-husband, arrives from abroad.
Col. Rashid Borshid, head of the Criminal Investigation Department, told The Associated Press that the attacker remains at large. He said police are investigating possible motives and the gender of the attacker.
He said a fight broke out between the victim and the attacker in the women’s restroom just before the stabbing….

Pluralism in Turkey: A Fairy Tale
Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute
December 4, 2014
"We would view an insult or humiliation against an Alevi citizen or an adherent of any other religion as an insult against all of us, and won't accept it." The powerful line is from a speech by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Nov. 23. So nice. If only the reality were not worlds apart from the fairy tales Davutoglu keeps on telling.
Davutoglu's Putin-Medvedev-style master, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is notorious for his Sunni supremacist (and anti-Alevi) views. During his election campaign in 2011, he reminded tens of thousands of party fans at rallies in seven different cities that his political rival and main opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, was an Alevi. "You know, he is an Alevi," Erdogan told crowds in a cynical way while thousands booed "the Alevi Kilicdaroglu." In that election, Erdogan's votes in all seven cities rose from the previous election.
Only three weeks before Davutoglu's speech, a professional German-Turkish footballer, Deniz Naki, announced that he decided to leave his club and Turkey following a religious and racist attack. Naki, who in the past was the victim of abuses and insults for being a Kurdish Alevi and carrying a tattoo revealing his faith, had been attacked by unknown assailants in Ankara and suffered minor injuries. "This is the first warning," the assailants told him. The footballer said he now feared to go out alone in Ankara and had decided to leave Turkey for Germany.
An Alevi Muslim would feel safer in Germany than in Muslim Turkey! An Alevi Muslim feared going out alone in the Turkish capital, while Davutoglu speaks of "not accepting an insult or humiliation of an Alevi or an adherent of any other religion."
Another incident that coincided with the "fairy tales from Davutoglu" and its aftermath reveal that the prime minister cannot be serious about his pro-pluralism rhetoric.
The (appointed, not elected) governor of Edirne, a Turkish city bordering continental Europe, said last week that he would not allow prayers at the city's Great Synagogue, because Israeli security forces had attacked the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem -- although Israeli police denied walking into the house of worship.
Governor Dursun Sahin said: "While those bandits (Israeli security forces) blow winds of war inside al-Aqsa and slay Muslims, we build their synagogues. I say this with a huge hatred inside me. We clean their [Jewish] graveyards, send their projects to boards. But the synagogue here will be registered only as a museum, and there will be no exhibitions inside it."
The governor's outward hate speech caused uproar among secular and liberal Turks. An opposition lawmaker from "the Alevi Kilicdaroglu's" party demanded his immediate resignation or dismissal. Members of a pro-democracy group gathered in front of the Great Synagogue to protest Governor Sahin. Secular newspapers campaigned against him -- while Islamist media defended his vengeful words.
Eventually, the government stepped back and assured that the synagogue would not lose its status as a house of worship. But would the governor resign? Would he be sacked? This author predicted that none of that would happen. Instead, the governor had probably scored good points to get a future promotion for the "huge hatred inside him."
Governor Sahin launched a PR campaign to save (his and the government's) face. He claimed that he was "misunderstood," but he did not say how or why. His speech, in its entirety, had been made in front of cameras; so, no room for denial. His emphasis on his "huge hatred" was too explicit. He also claimed that the media had distorted his words, but he did not say which words had been distorted. And Sahin called Turkey's Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva to offer an apology. An apology for what? For his "huge hatred?" No, for the "misunderstanding."
Finally, a top government official came to his aid, trying to use his diplomatic skills. But not with the perfect skills, for the careful observer. In fact, the government's defense line looked more innocent than the Governor Sahin's "huge hatred," but reflected a more problematic thinking. "The governor made a mistake. He spoke with his sentiments," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc defended Sahin. "I respect and appreciate him. Case closed." A short statement with not-so-short messages.
First, the governor will not resign or be dismissed. Second, Arinc's statement clearly implies tacit support for the governor. Third, and most importantly, representing the political authority, Deputy Prime Minister Arinc admitted, in a defensive way, that the governor had spoken "with his sentiments." Worse, for Arinc the governor remains a man to respect and appreciate.
All that means the government sees no harm in keeping on duty a governor whose sentiments are full of 'huge hatred' for Turkish and other Jews.
Apparently, for Arinc (and probably for Davutoglu, too) the governor made a mistake; but that mistake was not to feel "huge hatred" for Jews; the mistake was to express that feeling in front of cameras and cause a mini-scandal.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.